With the holiday season upon us, there is a good chance that you have bought at least one present for a child. For many children, getting new toys is one of the most anticipated events of the season. Choosing the right toy to purchase for our children this year is more important than ever in light of recent toy-related injuries to children. In 2011, 13 children were killed and an estimated 262,300 were injured in the U.S. due to toys. These numbers are entirely too high. Fortunately, we can follow many safety tips when purchasing and giving our child a gift to ensure everyone has a safe, happy holiday season.

Purchase age-appropriate toys for your children. Toys that are acceptable for older children potentially could be hazardous to younger ones. If you have children of varying ages, keep the younger ones away from the older ones’ toys that could potentially harm them. These include toys with very small parts or small balls that a young child could ingest or that could block the child’s airway. Parents should avoid purchasing these types of toys for children under 4-years-old. Children under 6-years-old should not have toys that contain magnets. These can cause serious injuries or even death if swallowed. Balloons that are broken, underinflated or not inflated can also be a choking hazard for children younger than 8 years.

Riding toys, such as skateboards, in-line skates, bicycles and scooters may be at the top of many children’s wish list, but these can be dangerous if they are incorrectly used or proper equipment is not worn. Buy proper safety equipment for them to wear when playing with these types of toys, and closely watch them the few times they try out a new toy. If you have previous experience with these types of items, teach your child the proper way to use them.

A countless number of toys will require batteries, but chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children. Adults should pay attention too instructions and warning labels. Some battery charges may lack any device to prevent overcharging. Adults to should supervise charges and adapters to ensure they are working properly.

After the gifts are opened, immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things.

They can cause choking hazards or suffocation for young children.

Purchasing safe gifts for your children will ensure everyone has an enjoyable holiday season.

MARSHA O. PARKER is the Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 270-886-6328.

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