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Toy safety is major concern this Christmas

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POSTED: January 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.
ATLANTA — With the recent focus on toy safety and the holiday shopping season already in full swing, parents need to be aware of what they can do to make sure the gifts their children receive this year will not require a trip to the emergency room. Beyond poisoning from lead paint, some toys pose other dangers to children, including choking hazards and permanent vision loss.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 202,300 children were treated in the emergency room for toy-related injuries in 2005, the most recent data available. And, 7,820 of those injuries were to the eyes. Eye injuries consisted of lacerations, abrasions and foreign bodies.   
Prevent Blindness America has designated December as Safe Toys and Gifts Month in an effort to provide safety tips to all those buying gifts for children this year. Toys, sporting equipment and even art supplies can be harmful to kids if they are not used properly.
“We all want to make sure our children have the best holiday ever and receive whatever gift they are wishing for. But, unfortunately, the toy that is on top of their wish list may not be the most appropriate for their age and development level,” said Jenny Pomeroy, CEO, Prevent Blindness Georgia. “We all need to make an effort to take every safety precaution to protect our kids.”
Prevent Blindness Georgia suggests the following tips to help make this holiday season a safe one for children:
• 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 development level.
• Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles). The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates there are 40,000 sports-related eye injuries each year.
• Any toy that is labeled “supervision required” must always be used in the presence of an adult.
• Make recommendations to family members and friends about gifts that you feel are appropriate for your child.
• Always save the warranties and directions for every toy.
• Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. BB guns and air guns should not even be considered toys.
• Inspect toys for sturdiness. Your child’s toys should be durable with no sharp edges or points. The toys should also withstand impact.
• Look for the letters “ASTM.” This means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
• 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.  
• Repair or throw away damaged toys. Keep toys meant for older children away from younger ones.
• Remain aware of recalled products. For further information on toy and product recalls, visit the U.S. Product Safety Commission Web site at www.cpsc.gov.
For more information, call (770) 266-0071 or visit www.pbga.org

Additional
Prevent Blindness Georgia was founded in 1965 as the state affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization since 1908. Its mission is to prevent blindness and preserve sight for the residents of Georgia, which is accomplished through vision screening for children and adults, eye exams and glasses for indigent seniors and homeless and working poor adults, public education on eye health and safety to persons at risk for eye disease, and vision screening training.
 

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