Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Holiday toy safety

Children have been making holiday wish lists and many parents have started toy shopping. On Monday morning, we discussed toy safety with Dr. Alicia Arnold, including some things to keep in mind while selecting toys for your kids.

Meghan Kulig: What kinds of toys have been responsible for accidental deaths in children in recent years?

Dr. Arnold: In 2012, 11 children were reported to have died due to toys according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The majority were accidents resulting from tricycles and non-motorized scooters. There were also reports of children suffocating or choking on toys. Thankfully, the number of children who actually died was low, but many more are seen in emergency departments for toy-related injuries. In 2012, around 192,000 children were treated due to toy-related injuries.

Meghan Kulig: How about toy recalls?

Dr. Arnold: The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 31 toys last year. The majority of toy recalls last year involved ingestion dangers, such as magnetic or chemical hazards. Register your toys with the product cards so you can be alerted if a toy is recalled. You can also check the website to search for recalls or to sign-up for emails about recalled products.

Meghan Kulig: What are a few toy safety issues parents should keep in mind for younger children?

Dr. Arnold: An important point is to make use toys are age appropriate. A toy that is appropriate for an older child could pose a choking hazard for a younger child. Magnets and batteries can be especially dangerous if swallowed. Examine stuffed toys carefully to make sure there are no small parts that can be swallowed, like bead eyes, and make sure that they are adequately sewn so children don't have a chance to try to eat the stuffing contents.

Meghan Kulig: How about safety concerns for slightly older children?

Dr. Arnold: Make sure kids have appropriate safety gear like helmets for ride-on toys. Be careful with toys that shoot things. If you choose to buy these, make sure you educate your children on how not to accidentally harm themselves or others. Also, while it is great to be able to get hand-me-down toys from friends or relatives, you want to make sure that these older toys meet current safety standards.

Meghan Kulig: How about objects that aren't toys, but still pose a risk of injury at holiday time?

Dr. Arnold: Some holiday plants like mistletoe and holly can be poisonous if eaten. Bubbling lights can also attract children with bright colors and effects, but the liquid may be harmful if a child breaks the light and drinks it. Deflated balloons can choke or suffocate children.

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