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Report shows toy-related injuries to children continue to rise

CHICAGO — Although the holidays are still a few weeks away, shopping season has already begun. With stores and online retailers already offering sales and discounts to consumers, it is important that children's safety be at the top of the shopping list.
In the most recent report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), injuries related to toys actually increased from the previous year. In fact, there were close to 186,000 injuries that required emergency room treatment for those ages 15 and younger in 2009, compared with approximately 173,000 in 2008. And, 90,600 of those injuries were to those less than 5 years of age.
The majority of injuries were to the head and face area, including the eyes. Lacerations, abrasions and contusions made up most of these injuries.
Prevent Blindness America, the nation's oldest eye health and safety organization, has declared December as "Safe Toys and Gifts Month." The group encourages everyone, whether they are buying gifts for their own family or friends or for charitable donations, to make conscientious decisions based on what is best for the child.
The majority of injuries were to the head and face area, including the eyes. Lacerations, abrasions and contusions made up most of these injuries.

"The holidays should be spent with friends and family, not in the emergency room," said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. "By taking a few, easy safety precautions, we can keep the festivities merry and bright."
Prevent Blindness America suggests the following tips:
  • Inspect all toys before purchasing. Monitor toys that your child has received as gifts to make sure they are appropriate for your child's age and developmental level.
  • Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear — such as a basketball along with eye goggles or a face guard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball.
  • Make recommendations to family members and friends about gifts that you feel are appropriate for your child. Be diligent about inspecting these gifts before allowing your child to play with them.
  • Any toy that is labeled "supervision required" must always be used in the presence of an adult. Keep toys meant for older children away from younger ones.
  • Always save the warranties and directions for every toy. If possible, include a gift receipt. Repair or throw away damaged toys.
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
  • Inspect toys for sturdiness. Your child's toys should be durable, with no sharp edges or points. The toys should also withstand impact. Dispose of plastic wrapping material immediately on toys as they may have sharp edges.
  • Don't give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
  • The CPSC recommends that children younger than eight years old be kept away from deflated balloons. Discard broken balloons at once as these represent a serious choking hazard.
  • For younger children, avoid play sets with small magnets and make sure batteries are secured within the toy. If magnets or batteries are ingested, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
Starpupils.org, the new children's vision health program from Prevent Blindness America, provides additional information on toy safety and general children's vision topics. Please visit Starpupils.org, facebook.com/starpupils or call 1-800-331-2020.
About Prevent Blindness America: Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.
Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research. These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public. Together with a network of affiliates, divisions and chapters, Prevent Blindness America is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America.
For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-800-331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at preventblindness.org or facebook.com/preventblindness.