By Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 235,300 toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2008. Here are some useful toy safety tips from Malcolm Denniss, technical director for SGS Consumer Testing Services, to avoid the ER this holiday season:

The most important aspect of buying gifts for children for the holidays is to make sure the toy or game is age-appropriate for the child. The guidelines were developed by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Toy Industry Association, and take into account the typical ability of children to handle certain toys.

  1. Children are naturally excited to play with new toys at holiday times, often in a robust and possibly in an overly enthusiastic manner. It is important that parents periodically check their children’s toys for any damage or breakage, which could create sharp edges or a choking hazard. If a toy looks damaged, take it away.
  2. While toy shopping during the holidays, check recall notices at the toy or department store to verify none of child’s existing toys have been recalled and are still in your child’s room or toy box.
  3. If you are buying toys for nephews, nieces, or other children that you may not see on a regular basis, it is always a good idea to check with the parents and make sure you know what they think is appropriate for the child, particularly for very young children where maturity can vary significantly. Be particularly careful when buying for children under the age of three years. This age group often still puts toys in their mouths, so check the front of the toy package to see if the toys have small parts before buying.
  4. Teach kids outdoor and indoor play safety. It’s important to teach them to not play ball games near roadways and to always look where they are running if the ball goes outside the play area. Never let them play near roads and areas where automobiles are driving. Even if it is cold on Christmas morning, and they are excited to play with their new toys, do not let them play with flying toys indoors where they can not only knock over decorations but can also hit bystanders.
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