Home     Healthy Kids    

Are Your Child's Toys Safe?

Prevent injury by buying the right toys

In 2003, more than 10,000 children age 14 and younger were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for eye injuries related to toys. These injuries can result from accidents (e.g., a child tripping over a toy that is left on the floor), unintended misuse of the toy, or an inherent flaw in the toy's design or material.

"The fact is that virtually all of these eye injuries are preventable. You can help keep your children safe by showing them how to use the toys properly, by supervising them if they are very young, and by using sound judgment, rather than following the latest fad, when making a purchase," says Steve Peterson, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Tri-State.

"When choosing toys for your children, you need to make sure the toys are well constructed and appropriate for their ability and age," adds Peterson. Prevent Blindness Tri-State (PBTS) recommends avoiding toys that shoot projectiles, such as air and BB guns - they contribute to a large number of serious eye injuries including blindness, and sometimes result in deadly accidents. In 2003, 1,700 eye injuries occurred in children age 14 and younger related to toy weapons, BB guns, slingshots and other propelled toys.

READ MORE: Toys to encourage learning

Prevent Blindness Tri-State offers the following tips:

• Inspect toys for safe construction. Products given to young children should be made of durable plastic or wood with no sharp edges or points. The toys should be able to withstand impact. Avoid purchasing toys for young children with small parts, as they tend to put items in their mouths, increasing their risk of choking.

• Check your children's toys regularly for broken parts. Throw out broken toys immediately if they cannot be safely repaired. Older kids often alter their toys and misuse them, making them unsafe. It is better to be vigilant, even with older kids, so that serious eye injuries can be prevented.

• Read the instructions and the suggested age level on the packaging. Assess whether the item is appropriate for the child's ability and age. Age labeling is provided not just for developmental reasons, but for safety reasons as well.

• Look for the symbol ASTM F963. This indicates the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

• Make recommendations to family members and friends about gifts that you feel are appropriate for your child.

• Remain aware of recalled products. Large toy retailers post regular notices of recalled toys usually at the front of stores. Take recalled products back to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. For further information on toy and product recalls, visit the U.S. Product Safety Commission website.

READ MORE: The debate on educational toys

PBTS offers two free fact sheets, Tips for Choosing Safe Toys, and Most Dangerous Toys to Children's Eyes, hoping to reduce the number of toy-related eye injuries that occur among children during the holiday season and throughout the year.

A proud member of the Prevent Blindness America family of affiliates, we are committed to eliminating preventable blindness in the Tri-State area. For more information, or to receive a free fact sheet, call 1-800-331-2020 or visit us on the web.