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November 23, 1999

Safe Toys Help Ensure a Safe Holiday Season

Lincoln, NE (SafetyAlerts) - Nationally, more than 100,000 children aged 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms every year for toy-related injuries. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, SAFEKIDS Coalition recommends that you avoid the following when selecting toys for your children:

  • Toys with small, removable parts. Small parts can be chewed on or swallowed by children under three, creating a choking hazard. Use a small parts tester (which can be purchased at a toy or specialty store) to measure the size of the toy or part. If the piece fits entirely inside the tester, it could be a choking hazard.
  • Toys with sharp points or edges.
  • Toys that make loud noises. Toy guns and high-volume portable cassette recorders can permanently impair a child’s hearing.
  • Propelled toy darts and other projectiles – they can cause cuts or eye injuries.
  • Toys with strings, straps, or cords longer than seven inches. Long strings and cords can wrap around a child’s neck and strangle him or her.

Toy suggestions/guidelines:

Infants to age 1: activity quilts, stuffed animals without button noses and eyes (because they can be pulled off and swallowed), bath toys, soft dolls, baby swings, cloth books, and squeaky toys.

Ages 1 to 3: books, blocks, fit-together toys, balls, push-and-pull toys, pounding toys, and shape toys.

Ages 3 to 5: non-toxic art supplies, books, videos, musical instruments, and outdoor toys such as a baseball tee, slide, or swing.

Ages 5 to 9: craft materials, jump ropes, puppets, books, electric trains, and sports equipment.

Ages 9 to 14: computers, microscopes, table and board games, and outdoor and team sports equipment.

Other toy giving tips when buying bicycles, tricycles, skateboards, or sleds:

  • Giving a bike, skateboard, or sled? Include a helmet as part of the gift. Bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
  • Buy reflective clothing, stickers, or bike reflectors for any child who will be riding or skating in non-daylight hours.
  • Give a bike horn or bell as a stocking stuffer.
  • Include elbow pads, wrist guards, and kneepads when giving in-line skates, roller skates, or skateboards as gifts.
  • Give in-line skating lessons from a professional instructor or a community recreation center. Providing good instruction helps a new skater learn the right way to skate as well as good skating etiquette.

Source: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

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