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Shopping for toys for your kids? Beware these hidden dangers

There are steps you can take to select safe toys for your children this holiday season

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As you take advantage of Cyber Monday and extended Black Friday sales, there are a few steps you should take before clicking and buying that “favorite” toy on your child’s wish list.

It’s worth mentioning here that toy-related injuries are real and they can happen to anyone. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 174,000 children under the age of 15 were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries in 2016 alone.

And typically the same reasons are to blame for these incidents. One of the big culprits behind these injuries is buying a toy for a child that is not age-appropriate for them. So don’t overlook the age recommendations on the toy’s packaging.

“That’s mainly from a safety standpoint than any other standpoint,” said Danielle Carlino with The Players Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. “It’s not so much if your child is developmentally advanced, but it is actually tell you that if a product is (for children age 3 and up), that there is an element of that product that if your child is below 3 years old that it is dangerous for them.”

Often there’s an age recommendation listed on a toy because a piece of it could pose a choking hazard. The easiest way to check if a toy or something attached to it could cause your child to choke is to try fitting it inside a toilet paper roll. If it fits inside the roll, it could likely get lodged in a child’s throat and would present a danger to young children.

The second thing to remember is doing your homework before you make a purchase. Carlino suggests doing some research online to see if there have been any problems with the toy on your list. So read other consumers’ reviews and feedback carefully. She also had this advice: “Beware of third-party or independent sellers, which may not conform to CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standards.”

Some toys and regular household items also carry a hidden risk. According to Safe Kids, more than 2,800 children are treated in ERs every year after swallowing small batteries known as button batteries.

“In children’s toys, it is required to be in a screwed back,” Carlino said. “But with adult items such as key fobs, even music cards, they have button batteries in them as well. There are very common items we can see that have all these button batteries. If your child does digest one of these batteries, Safe Kids recommends immediately going to the emergency room because it is a common misconception that since it is the size of a coin, it can pass through the intestine like a coin. But if a button battery does get lodged, it can pose a serious risk.”

Carlino said these batteries can cause chemical burns in only a couple hours’ time and potentially even result in death.

“So it’s important to immediately take them to the emergency room (if a button battery is swallowed),” she said. “And also trying to prevent that risk as much as possible in your household — keeping those remotes, keeping those key fobs, making sure all those batteries, if there are batteries, (are) secured and up and away from children.”


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