By Kathy Hubbard
Believe it or not, there is a product on the market called “Poo-Dough.” Yes, my dear readers, it’s a Play-Doh like substance that looks like, well, poop. Gross as that is in itself, the toy-safety group called WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm) has it on its top ten list for dangerous toys because it contains wheat – a potential for allergy-related injuries.
Reading that made me decide to once again remind you to be careful when you go to purchase toys for the children you love. Be sure that the toy is age appropriate. Be sure that older children keep their toys from their younger siblings, cousins and neighbors.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report for last year states that there were well over a quarter of a million emergency room treated, toy-related injuries. 42 percent of these injuries were classified as lacerations, contusions or abrasions with almost half of them occurring to the head and face.
PreventBlindness.org sponsors Safe Toys for the Holidays campaign and their website provides this excellent check list:
• Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
• Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
• Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
• Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
• Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
• Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
• Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear.
• Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of three.
• Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck.
• Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately. According to the CPSC, more children have suffocated from them than any other type of toy.
• Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations).
Throw away wrapping paper, strings, ribbons and packaging materials immediately. These are not play things.
Be careful about the noise level of toys. Noise making guns, for instance, can harm a child’s hearing if they go off too close to their sensitive ears. And, while we’re talking about guns or any sort of weapon-ish item like bows and arrows, slingshots or dart games, be sure the parents are okay with these things.
Children need to be taught how to use electrical toys such as train sets. Any toy with a heating element is not recommended for children under the age of eight. Supervision is required for these types of toys, so if you don’t live with the child, get permission from the adult who does.
CPSC recommends that children should be taught to put their toys away safely to prevent tripping and falling. They say that outdoor toys need to be stored away from weather that could rust or damage them.
“Toy boxes, too, should be checked for safety. Use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air.”
Be wary of product descriptions on the internet. Check the toys carefully when they arrive, do not have the company gift wrap them. Check contents for lead paint, chromium or phthalates, all very dangerous compounds.
For the whole list of the Ten Worst Toys and for more in-depth information go to www.toysafety.org. They don’t pull any punches when it comes to identifying hazardous toys but you’re the one who has to decide if it offends your sensibilities. Poo? Ewwww.
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or email@example.com.