Age-appropriate toys lead to less injuries in the new year
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 11, 2012 | 834 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Responding to data released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Better Business Bureau and Dr. Carlo Oller — medical director for the Cartersville Medical Center’s Emergency Department — advise adults to select children’s toys carefully this holiday season. The CPSC’s report estimated that last year children 14 and younger fell victim to 193,200 toy-related injuries, 44 percent of which were contusions, lacerations or abrasions.

“I can remember years back, when the Rollerblades came out and it was literally overnight,” Oller said. “That day — [there were] all these broken wrists and head injuries and concussions and whatnot. So it’s very much toy dependent. Reading through that [BBB] release, they ask that people stay within their [children’s] age range [when buying toys]. Obviously parents who give toys that are age inappropriate — [for example, giving] 5, 7-year-olds like a Razor Scooter or an electronic motorcycle — ... that’s when you get the increase [in] injuries right after Christmas.

“In general, [if] you try to give a toy for an older kid to a younger kid, that’s when injuries happen because they just don’t have the motor ability or the protective equipment related to it. So in terms of advising, stay within the age range in terms of safety and No. 2, [provide] that protective equipment. I would say definitely we see an increase in orthopedic injuries. They get new bikes, get new skates, Razors and whatnot [and] kids fall.”

While the type and number of injuries will depend on what toys are popular, Oller said it always is important to take extra safety precautions, such as making sure a child wears a helmet or is supervised.

“One toy I [especially] dislike is the trampoline,” he said. “We see the most severe arm injuries because kids go off of it and fall to the ground — broken arms and ... bad surgical fractures of the arm. So even if you are going to buy a trampoline for your kids, make sure they have that protective gate. And when they’re jumping [make sure] that they’re supervised, that way if they lose balance and go against a wall or something you’re always there, around to catch them.”

To help adults select toys wisely, the BBB’s news release offers the following advice to ensure that the toys you give are safe.

• Find out which toys have been recalled. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.recalls.gov. If the toy or product has been recalled, check the guidelines for what to do next.

• Make sure the toy is age-appropriate. Toy safety isn’t only about avoiding recalled products; you also need to make sure you’re buying appropriate toys for the age of the child. Read and follow the age recommendation listed on the package or toy.

• Read labels. Look for age recommendations, such as ‘Not recommended for children under 3,’ and for other safety labels including ‘Flame retardant’ or ‘Flame resistant’ on fabric products.

• Be cautious of older toys or hand-me-downs. While buying a gently used toy might be cost effective, they may not meet current safety standards and could be too worn from play that they break and become hazardous.

• Be careful when shopping online. Internet toy vendors may not be as vigilant as brick and mortar stores about pulling recalled products off the shelf or flagging bar codes.”

After gifts are purchased and opened, CPSC recommends adults throw away toy packaging or plastic wrapping; oversee battery charging; and prevent young children from playing with their older siblings’ toys.