In 1997, the Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports of 13 toy-related deaths and over 140,000 hospital emergency room treated injuries associated with toys. These deaths and injuries are not only tragic, but also preventable. Supervision of children at play and a knowledge of the types of toys and toy characteristics or features appropriate for children at various age levels are critical to preventing toy-related deaths and injuries.
Remember to follow these general safety tips when choosing appropriate toys for children:
1. Select toys to suite the age, ability, skill, and interest level of the intended child.
2. Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age-appropriate recommendations.
3. Avoid toys with small parts, which may pose a choking hazard. For example, never give a child under three years old any toy with small parts.
4. Look for sturdy construction, tightly secured eyes, noses, or small parts.
5. For infants, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
6. Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age eight.
7. Discard plastic wrappings on toys immediately and keep wrapping out of children's reach.
Whether toys are brand new or are hand-me downs, toys can break. Inspect old and new toys regularly for jagged or sharp edges, or broken parts that might constitute a choking hazard. Older children should be taught to keep their toys out of reach of younger children.
If the staff and children at your center make toys or other decorative ornaments, be sure to avoid using small parts that could choke a child such as small balls, buttons, or beads. Balloons may be used to decorate, but balloons also represent a hidden danger and can kill. Uninflated balloons or small pieces of broken balloons can seal off a child's airway and cause suffocation. In addition, cords, ribbons, or strings, which may be attached to toys or ornaments, should be cut to less than seven inches to avoid strangulation. Also, when purchasing art materials such as crayons, paint sets, or modeling clay, purchase only those products which are accompanied by the statement "Conforms to ASTM D-4236." The ASTM D-4236 standard requires that art materials for children under 12 years of age should have no hazardous ingredients.
It is an important responsibility for childcare professionals to keep up to date with all current safety standards and recall information. For a complete listing of all safety information, contact:
US Consumer Product Safety Commission Public Listing Washington, D.C. 20207
Safety and recall announcements can be faxed, mailed, or e-mailed directly to you by writing to CPSC or calling the CPSC hotline at 1-800-638-2772. Make sure products in your center have not been recalled by checking The U.S. CPSC Website