How to buy safe toys

With a little diligence, you can make sure to give safe toys as gifts this Christmas.By Mindy Baxter

The holidays for kids should be a joyous, happy time, but before adding to that joy with a gift for the favorite kid in your life, you need to think practically. To keep the little ones in your life safe, you’ll need to consider the safety of the toy you’re planning to give.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), toy-related injuries sent more than 250,000 Americans to the emergency room in 2010.

To stay kid safe, here are a few things to consider:

Recalls

Nikki Fleming, public affairs specialist for the CPSC, says the first place to stop is the commission’s website, which has lists of recalled toys.

“The good news for parents is we have new toy safeguards in place,” Fleming said.

Visit the CSPC’s website to check the list of recalled toys before buying.

Choking

A child’s airway is smaller than an adult’s, and it’s easy for a child to accidentally choke on small items. In fact, according to the CPSC almost half of toy-related deaths in 2010 were caused by choking.

Be extra careful with small balls or balloons, which can lodge in the child’s throat, completely blocking his or her airway.

Old toys

Carefully check used toys for signs of damage and either repair or discard damaged toys.

“This is a good time to take inventory of what you have that might need some maintenance,” Fleming said.

Follow guidelines

Most toy packing includes guidelines for age-appropriateness. While it may seem your smart 3-year-old can do Legos, don’t forget how easily the child could choke on a Lego.

“There’s much more than comprehension taken into consideration on the age labeling on toys,” Fleming said.

Safety gear

If you’re planning a new bicycle or skateboard this holiday, don’t forget the helmet and safety gear to go with it.

For more safety information, visit the Associa Supports Kids Web site.

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