Although the majority of toys on today's store shelves are safe, state consumer protection specialists Tuesday warned parents that some toys can be dangerous if misused or used by children who are too young for them.
Douglas Benevento, the executive director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, "When shopping for toys this holiday season, read labels to make certain the toys you select match a child's age and skill level."
Benevento said that falls and choking account for the majority of toy-related injuries, with choking being the most common cause of toy-related deaths.
"Due to their natural desire to put everything in their mouths and the small size of their upper airways, children under age 3 are at greater risk than older children from choking on toys. Appropriate selection and proper use of toys, combined with parental supervision, can greatly reduce the incidence and severity of such injuries," said Bailey.
According to Benevento, it is estimated that the total annual cost of toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms among children ages 4 and under is approximately $385 million.
Benevento said, "Toy-related injuries cost money, but more importantly, they cost lives," she said.
He provided the following tips for parents to follow to keep children safe this holiday season:
• Always supervise children at play.
• When selecting toys, consider the child's age, interests and skill level. Look for quality design and construction, and follow age and safety recommendations on labels.
• Inspect toys regularly for damage and potential hazards such as sharp edges. Make any necessary repairs immediately, or discard damaged toys out of children's reach.
• Avoid toys with sharp points or edges, toys that produce loud noises and projectiles. Toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches can unintentionally strangle children and should be avoided.
• If purchasing in-line skates, skateboards or bicycles, also purchase the safety equipment, such as wrist guards, knee pads and helmets.
• Toys are frequently recalled for safety reasons. Check www.recalls.org regularly for updates and information on recent toy recalls.
For more information about toy safety or for a toy safety checklist, visit www.safekids.org.