Be Safe This Holiday Season

Hopefully by now your holiday shopping is complete and you are ready to enjoy the long weekend. Not really? Me neither. Here is the good news by someone with experience in this field: it is really not so crazy at the mall at the end of the day tomorrow.

When pressed for time, and grabbing the last toy on the shelf, many won’t take the time to stop and think whether or not the toy is safe. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants consumers to know that while safety should be at the top of everyone’s toy list, stronger federal rules are making a positive impact and restoring confidence in the safety of toys.

Among many new toy safeguards that have been put in place, the lowest lead content and lead paint limits in the world have now been established. Additionally, the CPSC is also working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track shipments in transit from other countries, thereby increasing seizure of dangerous imported toys. I know that a lot of people think there is just too much regulation and I’m not unmindful of that view. But when it comes to lead paint – this stuff causes brain injury in our children. Let’s feel free to go a little overboard.

These safeguards, along with – and you can’t emphasize this enough – safety-conscious steps taken by many toy makers and sellers have contributed to a continued decline in toy recalls since 2008. There were 34 toy recalls in fiscal year 2011. This is down from 46 toy recalls in fiscal year 2010, 50 recalls in 2009, and 172 recalls in 2008. In 2011, toy recalls related to lead declined to 4, down from 19 in 2008.

Toy-related deaths to children younger than 15 increased to 17 fatalities reported in 2010, up from 15 reported in 2009. Nearly half of these toy-related fatalities were attributed to choking on balloons, small balls, and rubber balls.

A recent report released by CPSC notes that about 181,500 children younger than 15 years of age were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments due to toy-related injuries in 2010. Nonmotorized scooters continued to be the category of toys associated with the most injuries, injuries which included lacerations, contusions, and abrasions to the child’s face and head.

People, please remember this:

  • Balloons – Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old. Discard broken balloons at once.
  • Small balls and other toys with small parts – For children younger than age 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
  • Scooters and other riding toys – Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times, and they should be sized to fit.
  • Magnets – For children under age 6, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

So, while you are out tonight and tomorrow, fighting over parking spaces and standing in long lines, take an extra minute and think about what you are buying. Is it safe?
Happy Holidays everyone!

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