At Granite Falls Municipal Hospital and Manor, we want all of our community members, from the youngest to the oldest to have a safe and wonderful holiday season. But each year, children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Choking is a particular risk for kids ages 3 or younger, because they tend to put objects in their mouths. Here are some purchasing guidelines to keep our kids safe.
● Read all tags that are attached to stuffed animals. Most of them are restricted to ages three and up. If you are giving it to a child that is an infant or under two, please be sure that the animal is smaller in height and “mass” than the child. Purchasing toys that are age appropriate for infants will not only help you find developmentally appropriate toys, but also toys that are safe for infants. Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant. Stuffed toys should be washable.
● Look for safety precautions and warnings on the box. Toys, for example the “Easy Bake Oven” needs adult supervision and assistance with the cooking. Make sure the gift is acceptable for the specific age group. Pay very close attention if the gift has sharp edges.
● Examine the pictures of toys on boxes, for example Legos may contain small pieces that a kid may place in their mouths. Determine if there are any choking hazards on the toy. An easy way to determine if a toy or a part of a toy can pose a choking hazard is to see if the toy or toy part will fit inside of a cardboard toilet paper tube. If the toy or toy part fits easily in the tube, then the toy or toy part can be a choking hazard, which are not safe for infants.
● Avoid getting anything that has excess string or cords, such as slingshots. Never consider BB guns as toys for kids.
● Inspect all gifts as children open them.
● Look for information on toy recalls. The website for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has information on infant toy recalls at www.cpsc.gov . You can search by specific toy, manufacturing company or toy description. You can also look for any recalls in a particular month and year. Any toy that has been recalled should be deemed unsafe for an infant or any other child.
● Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint.
● Art materials should say nontoxic. Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
● Steer clear of antique, older toys, even hand-me-downs from friends and family. Those toys might have sentimental value, but they may not meet current safety standards and may be so worn from play that they can break and become hazardous.
● Make sure a toy isn’t too loud for your child. The noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears — and can contribute to hearing damage.
If you are donating to Santa’s Sleigh Program this year, please keep these tips and guidelines in mind. Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!