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Avoid a holiday disaster: the ultimate toy safety guidelines

How can you keep your family safe this holiday season?

Christmas morning is all fun and games until someone gets hurt playing with their new toy. It might sound dramatic, or even alarmist, but the truth of the matter is that every three minutes in the United States, a child goes to the emergency room for a toy-related injury. You may expect that toy manufacturers are looking out for children’s health and safety, but sadly, there are far too many hazardous toys on the market that could put your kids at risk of injury, or even death.

So how can you keep your family safe this holiday season? Just follow these guidelines to avoid potential hazards, and ensure that your Christmas morning stays accident-free:

1.Educate yourself on what the current hazardous toys are on the market. A parent watchdog group, World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. or WATCH, puts out an annual list of the 10 worst toys on the market. Check out their list for 2018 with photos to see this year’s worst culprits of kid-danger. It will also give you an idea of what to look out for in other toys that may pose similar risks to your children.

2. Beware of hidden choking hazards. Very young children have a reputation for putting pretty much everything in their mouths. Yet, there are many toys with obvious choking hazards that are still marketed to very young age groups. Look out for any detachable items like eyes, clothes, or buttons on dolls or stuffed animals, or things with long handles like toy cutlery or drumsticks that could obstruct an airway. Inspect toy labels for choking warnings for children under the age of three.

3. Toys that replicate weapons are a bad idea. Quite a few of the toys on WATCH’s list this year are fake weapons that could result in some serious eye, facial, or impact injuries. A spring-loaded sword, small Nerf discs & “rockets” with some serious launch force, and a “slash claw” are all toys that could cause injuries and promote violence.

4. Look out for strangulation hazards. Long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons should all be kept out of cribs and playpens. The industry standard requires strings on playpen and crib toys to be shorter than 12 inches, but there are still toys on the market with string lengths that are longer and pose a strangulation hazard, so be aware.

5. Avoid anything with sharp edges or points. Children under the age of 8 should not be playing with any toy that has sharp points or prongs that can be turned into weapons. Sharp edges can also be dangerous, causing puncture wounds or cuts. Inspect toys for parts that could potentially break and expose sharp edges.

6. Don’t buy toys online. It may be more convenient to click to shop, but when you purchase products online, you aren’t able to physically inspect them for potentially hazardous parts or design. Some are even marketed without warnings, instructions, or age recommendations. Not only that, if buying resale or from a third-party source, there is a chance you could be purchasing recalled toys. These have been pulled from the market for safety reasons but may still be circulating online.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we’ll bring you information about the “Cause of the Month,” including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

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