Our summer safety series rolls on, this time touching on the bane of many a parent’s foot on a dark night - toys. The organization World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) isn’t referring to stepped-on Legos, however. They’re drawing attention to the fact that one of the major reasons emergency rooms across the country will treat roughly two and a half million children this summer is dangerous or improperly operated toys.
The toy-related hazards that WATCH identifies frequently fall into the general categories of inappropriate age recommendations, generally dangerous equipment (like ATVs) and toys that risk injury due to projectile or poor design. The reminder concerning choking hazards is significant, as the importance of the guidelines on toys for age of use. Although these are guidelines, it is clear from WATCH’s work that some toys involve greater risk than others; however, we also must keep in mind that when introducing any toy to an infant, toddler, or child they also require supervision during initial - and sometimes for the entirety of- use.
This is not to say that all play needs to be supervised, but rather that appropriate expectations concerning safety are discussed with the people that will be engaging in the activity. Just as an unknowing adult would not walk up to a craps table and gamble without knowing what they were doing (we would hope), we need to look at some toys as a similar new experience for the child. Although the risks might seem different, there are certain similarities concerning knowing how to play that can make the activity safer and, hopefully, more entertaining.
As you start to think of those that you will be buying toys for - young or old - we encourage you to reflect on the whole experience prior to purchasing, and then engage in the activity for the initial use with the recipient. Summer is a time for bonding and sharing in experiences with family and friends, and new toys and games are a great way to do it. Check out the WATCH main page for more information, and stay safe out there!