With the holiday season upon us, our thoughts turn to family gatherings, joyous get-togethers, and of course, toys! A recent study out of Clinical Pediatrics, however, has raised concern among some holiday shoppers, parents, and caregivers. The November 2014 article, Toy-related injuries among children treated in US emergency departments, 1990-2011 described a 40% increase in toy related injuries during the 21 year period. The authors found a large portion of these injuries stemmed from ride-on toys. Investigators also observed an increase in injuries during warmer months when children tend to be more active outside. The CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center at the Children’s Pavilion offers the following tips to keep our children safe so that we may all ring in a healthy new year!
- Always have children wear protective equipment when using a ride-on toy or playing sports. Helmet wearing should be encouraged from the earliest introduction of a toy so that it becomes second nature when a child sits on a bike or scooter, just as we expect him to wear a seatbelt in the car. Other items like knee and elbow pads are good to protect skaters and boarders. Finally, be a role model. If you are riding a bike, use a helmet. Children want to be like the grown-ups and will learn by example.
- When choosing toys or games pay attention to the manufacturer’s suggested age. Consider choking hazards. Avoid games with small pieces that can come loose and be put in a child’s mouth. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if something is small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube, it is a choking hazard.
- Become familiar with product recalls. Caregivers can go to the Recalls.gov website or similar resources to get the most up-to-date product information or register for regular updates.
- Parents and caregivers must be always vigilant. Children may have the physical skills to play games or ride a bike, but they don’t necessarily have the intellectual abilities to make the safest choices. As caregivers we need to watch our children constantly and evaluate their toys and the environment for any potential dangers.
From our Pediatric Rehabilitation family to yours, we wish you a happy and healthy 2015!
Maureen Suhr is a doctor of physical therapy and board certified pediatric specialist. She is assistant manager of the Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Network.