One reason holidays can seem hectic is because we feel so many “have-to’s.” Traditions and family memories seem to set before us a series of hurdles to clear, to make sure we’ve celebrated the way we “should.” You might say expectations are the biggest holiday tradition.

With all the expectations to juggle, many of us make lists. If gifts to children are on your list, then safe toys and gifts should be the heading. Yes, December is when Safe Toys and Gifts Month is observed, but the toys last all year (or we hope they do). Yet, in just one year, close to 200,000 children are admitted to a hospital because of an injury due to a toy.

Something about the history of this yearly observance helps drive home the urgency of it. Safe Toys and Gifts Month was originated by Prevent Blindness America, because almost half those childhood hospital admissions from toy injuries were prompted by injuries to the eyes or face.

We Watch Out for the Usual Suspects

By inspecting toys before we buy and give them, it’s pretty easy to see sharp edges, small pieces that might be swallowed, or parts that shoot or fly off. Sometimes though, even common hazards are less instinctive than that.

Deflated or broken balloons are colorful and attractive, and they certainly seem harmless enough. But they can choke or suffocate when small children put them in their mouths. Even strings and straps can strangle on rare but tragic occasions.

Bikes, trikes, scooters, and skateboards should prompt us to add a second gift – a helmet and protective gear. A child’s good safety habits can begin by seeing a connection like that demonstrated in the gifts they receive.

And making sure we choose age-appropriate toys sounds natural, but it takes some thoughtful and conscious consideration.

Let’s Stay Aware

As in so many matters of health, awareness is primary for preventing childhood injuries from toys. In addition to the old and obvious toy hazards, there is an ever-evolving landscape of hazards being discovered all the time. So, parents and grandparents are advised to keep their eyes and ears open for what’s not considered save this season.

One area to watch is the emergence of chemicals found to have dangerous cumulative effects on people. Children are particularly vulnerable to these because their systems are still developing, and because they put most everything they play with in their mouths sooner or later.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission makes it easy to scan the list of toys recalled for risks. Just this fall, that included new measures to prohibit toys containing phthalate chemicals, which have seen widespread use in making plastics flexible.

So, the knowledge behind giving safe toys and gifts is not a once-and-for-all thing, but takes ongoing attention.

Our family practice is here to support a way of life that includes child safety. Just call us at 843-815-6468.