With the Christmas season officially upon us and Black Friday being just days in the past, toy sales are no doubt experiencing a year-end surge. Of course, nobody would give a child a gift that’s obviously risky, but toy-related injuries do happen. Especially engaged parents can try keeping up with the latest product recalls to make sure the products and playthings their children use do not present a risk of injury. Toy recalls in particular certainly aren’t uncommon; for example, Toys”R”Us very recently issued a complete recall for the “Just Like Home” toy toaster set due to the possibility that the toy toast could break into small, sharp pieces that present laceration and choking hazards. Obviously, however, toys don’t necessarily have to be subject to a recall to present injury risks. Now, a one-of-a-kind study shows that toy-related injuries have gone up significantly over the past two decades.
Hospital Visits Skyrocket
The study, published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, indicates that toy-related injuries have increased by a whopping 40 percent between 1990 and 2011. A total of 3,278,073 children (defined as people under the age of 18) had to visit emergency rooms during that time period due to a toy. That comes out to around 149,003 cases per year or one case every three minutes. Using data collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, it was found that injuries peaked in frequency around age two, and 80.3 percent of the injuries occurred at home. Also, 63.4 percent of toy-related injuries occurred in male patients.
The most dangerous toy by far was the foot-powered scooter. Researchers found that ride-on toys made up 34.9 percent of the injuries and caused 42.5 percent of the hospital admissions. Around the time of the scooters’ rise in popularity – the year 2000 or so – children began injuring themselves at a rate of about once every 11 minutes. However, scooters only seem to be the most dangerous for children ages 5 to 17. For children younger than five, toy-related injuries were much more often caused by swallowing or choking on small toy parts. These types of injuries occurred at a rate of almost 14 cases per day. Overall, falls and collisions were the two most common causes of injury for children of all ages.
Keeping Kids Safe
Toy safety is not difficult but it does take some time and effort. Here are some tips for making sure your child doesn’t sustain any toy-related injuries:
- Take your child’s age into account when getting a new toy. Be sure to read any warning labels, instructions and age limit suggestions.
- Provide protective gear such as helmets, kneepads and wristgaurds for ride-on toys such as scooters, skateboards or skates. Stay vigilant and ensure your child uses them.
- Beware of any small parts, especially in board games, that could present a choking hazard to small children.
- Store young children’s toys in a container from which the toys cannot be accessed after playtime is over. Be sure that the container or bin doesn’t have hinges or other dangerous aspects itself.
- Supervise children as much as possible. While it’s of course difficult to always have an eye on your kids, supervision can easily prevent choking in young children and overly risky behavior in older kids.
For more information on keeping your kids safe from preventable accidents, check out safekids.org.
Toy-Related Injuries: The Bottom Line
This study certainly doesn’t suggest that parents should stop getting toys for their kids. Staying informed about recalls and taking some precautionary measures can keep your children safe from toy-related injuries. At the very least, the study could be a talking point for consumers who want to see stricter safety standards for toy companies.