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9 Safety Tips for Toys & Gifts This Season

The holidays are now in full swing. Leaves have fallen in Northwest Ohio, and some snow, too. Gifts have been stuffed into closets, ready to be pulled out at the last minute and wrapped in colorful paper. It’s a time filled with happiness and cheer — especially for kids. Right?

Not always. Kids love getting toys (thanks, Santa!), but toy-related injuries account for over 250,000 of children’s hospital visits each year. Most of these are under the age of 15. Most are face injuries.

And most of these injuries can be prevented.

To ensure it stays the most wonderful time of the year for your young ones, let’s talk about eye safety and toys.

“Being aware and thoughtful about what you are putting in your children’s hands is the best preventative medicine.” — David G. Hunter, MD, Ph.D, AAO spokesperson

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and we here at Perrysburg Eye Center want to promote awareness of potential hazards of some toys given to children this season.

“Many toys have the potential to cause eye injuries,” says American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson and ophthalmologist David G. Hunter, MD, Ph.D. “Being aware and thoughtful about what you are putting in your children’s hands is the best preventative medicine. Choose toys that are appropriate for your child’s age and abilities, as well as your willingness to supervise use of the toys.”

Make sure your children’s eyes are safe this season with these tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Prevent Blindness America.

1. Read all labels and warnings on toy box.

You ever wonder why we even have warning labels? While it’s true no one can force you to follow the label, the warning does seem to make people think twice. (A good example is the Surgeon General warning on cigarette packs.)

The point is to let manufacturers advise consumers about any safety issues related to the product. One of the most common examples you’ll see on toys and other smaller products is “WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD.” As you can probably guess, warning labels are not designed for kids to read (most won’t or can’t read or understand) — they’re for you, parents.

It’s up to you to read all safety labels, understand any potential hazards and communicate them to your children!

2. Avoid purchasing toys with rigid or sharp points, rods, spikes or dangerous edges.

You should only choose toys that are well-designed, ones that won’t break or splinter and cause any hazards to your child. You know those toys that propel objects? You might want to consider getting something else.

Your kids’ age and abilities also play a big part in determining which toys are safe. The younger they are, the less likely they’ll understand how to handle a toy that has edges or sharp points. It doesn’t hurt to show your child how to use a toy, either, to ensure they’re playing with it properly and safely.

3. Purchase toys that meet the safety standards of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

It’s known as the “gold standard” for toy safety — frequently updated to keep up with new toys and new information to keep kids safe when they’re having fun.

Since 2009, in the U.S., all toys have to meet the ASTM safety requirements to become commercially available. Chances are, most of what you purchase at the store or online will come from a reputable source and shouldn’t pose any risk that hasn’t been considered by the ASTM committee of manufacturers, retailers, government, child-safety groups and consumers. But better safe than sorry, as they say.

Use common sense, check to make sure the toys are ASTM-approved and when in doubt research or make a call. Or find a different toy. Your children’s eye safety depends on it.

4. Only buy toys that are meant for the child's age, maturity and ability.

There is a big difference between toys for a child under 1 and those for tweens, obviously. But even toddlers and preschoolers have different abilities and thus different types of toys that are best to play with. So when you’re filling your cart with goodies, think about what is appropriate for the specific age group(s) of your children.

This simple guide to age-appropriate toys can help you if you’re unsure.

5. Inspect toys before given to children.

Have you ever picked up one of your kids’ toys and wondered, Who came up with this? Sure, the combination of innovation and the market means we’ll see an influx of new types of toys each year that meet or create demand. But some extraordinarily strange toys on the market just leave us shaking our heads. Weird at best, dangerous at worst.

Before you hand your little boys and girls any new toys, look them over to double-check that there are no exposed or removable parts that could poke an eye out.

6. Show children how to use the toy safely.

Like parent, like child. It’s your responsibility to demonstrate how a toy is properly used — and to be clear about how NOT to play with it. Kids will still have a good time (and safer time, too!) as they follow your instructions — and your example — for how to prioritize eye safety.

7. Supervise children while playing.

When kids play, they’re in their own little world. Isn’t it cute? But as you sit back on the sofa with your cup of eggnog watching them exercise their imagination, you should keep track of what they’re playing with and how. In other words, keep an eye out to make sure they don’t shoot an eye out. (We’re looking at you, NERF darts.)

Heck, put down the hot cocoa, wipe off the cookie crumbs and get on their level! After all, adults are just grown-up kids, right?

8. Fix or throw away broken toys.

The more kids you have, the more toys you have. It’s a scientific law. Inside toys. Outside toys. Everywhere-in-between toys. And toys come in all different levels of quality. Some will last seemingly forever, and some will be in two pieces before Boxing Day.

Broken toys present a major hazard. As mentioned above, you should look toys over before and while kids play with them so no sharp or exposed pieces might put your kids’ eyes at risk. If and when you find a toy that is in no shape to be played with, you’ve got two options:

  1. Know what you're doing? Fix it.
  2. Beyond repair? Pitch it. (Many toys are acually recyclable, FYI.)

EXTRA TIP: Encourage your kids to put toys away, which might increase the longevity of some of them and help you avoid smashing others into potentially harmful pieces, as well as skip out on intense bodily injury — you know, in the case that somebody might accidentally step on them. LEGOs, anyone? #ParentProblems.

9. Have children wear the right protective eyewear for sports.

We’ve emphasized this point before: when kids play sports, summer or winter, they need to protect their eyes.

Sunglasses in the winter will block UV rays and reduce glare. Special goggles can keep eyes safe during anything from snowball fights to skiing. (Those of you in Toledo, Maumee or Perrysburg: we’ve got everything you need in stock at our Optical Shop!)

Wearing proper eye protection, even in the winter, is so important for eye safety, and you don’t have to sacrifice any fun.

To Wrap It Up

Toys are fun, but eye injury — for kids, often due to toys — is not. Spread the happiness and cheer, and start the New Year right, by teaching your kids about keeping their eyes safe while having fun with their brand-new gifts!

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Get more information about quality eyewear and eye care by calling Perrysburg Eye Center at 419-874-3125. Don’t forget to schedule your next eye checkup, and make sure to stop by our optical shop for functional, fashionable and affordable eyewear!

28370 Kensington Lane,
Perrysburg, Ohio 43551
(419) 874-3125

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