by Lori Stenvold
Mille Lacs Health System
The holiday shopping season is about to begin. In honor of December being declared Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month by “Prevent Blindness America,” Mille Lacs Health System would like to share some helpful hints to keep this holiday season safe for children of all ages. It is reported by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission that hospital emergency rooms treat an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries each year, many of which can easily be prevented.
When toy shopping this holiday season, always consider the actual age of the child, not necessarily whether you see them as advanced and might move up to the next age group of toys. Age level toys are determined by safety, and not intelligence. For children three and under, parents shouldn’t consider anything that could fit through an empty toilet paper roll as it can be a choking hazard. This is also true for items that come apart and have small pieces. Keep in mind that balloons, toys with magnets, and strings longer than 12” should also be avoided for the youngest age group. Art supplies such as crayons and markers should be labeled non-toxic. For kids ten and under, make sure that battery compartments can only be accessed by an adult and should be secured with a screw. Also, avoid toys that shoot or have items that fly off. Ride-on toys are one of the top injury creating toys for kids of all ages. Helmets should be required and protective padding is suggested for ride-on toys for all age groups.
Beyond just the actual toy gifting, don’t forget to immediately discard all wrappings, twist ties, packaging, etc. Make sure to read all labels on toys, advise the child how to properly use the toy, and supervise as needed. When gifting food please keep in mind hard candies are not appropriate for younger children, and food allergies should always be considered. Keep everyone safe this holiday season by observing these tips. Remember that MLHS’s Urgent Care & Emergency Departments are open every day.