First-Aid: Precautions with Toys

Children need toys as much as they need parental love. However, before buying a toy, some thought should be given to the kind of toy to buy, depending upon the age of the child, so that the toy to buy, depending upon the age of the child, so that the toy will not only be fun but also safe. Toy industry sources agree that making toys safe will not increase the cost to the consumer. What are needed are toy safety laws as well as a consumer movement to ensure their enforcement.

All toys and play equipment must be of good quality, installed correctly and maintained properly. Children must be taught how to use them safely.

Toy packaging should not have any staples since in the excitement of opening the packet, a child can be hurt by it. Further, a loose staple lying on the floor can injure someone’s foot. Even worse, an infant may try to eat it or may put it into the eyes.

Adults should read the directions for use on all the toys they buy and explain them to children.

Toy should not have any sharp edges or corners lest they hurt, cut or pierce the skin, eyes, nose, ears, etc. Parents should check the toy cupboard periodically for broken toys which should be discarded right away.

A rusty toy should be discarded because it can cause tetanus if it cuts the skin.

No arrows, rubber or plastic balls, or sparks should come out of toy-guns and pistols since they have the potential to cause grave injury, sometimes irreversible or sometimes fatal. Do not permit bows and arrows for the same reasons.

Tops having sharp pointed spikes or nails can hurt a child’s eye or skin. Do not let small children play with them.

Toys should not be very small, nor have tiny removable parts that can get into the nose or ear, or be swallowed.

Do not buy toys which make a noise when shaken. They may contain small pebbles or lead shots. Should the toy break open, an infant or a toddler may try to gobble the pebbles and lead shots, and may even choke on them. For the same reason the tiny tots should not be allowed to play with pebbles, marbles, coins, etc.

Make sure that the button eyes on teddy bears and dolls are not loose. If they come off, they could be swallowed by young children.

Be careful with toys that require home assembly. Ensure that a child cannot disassemble them. Check frequently that the nuts and screws have not loosened during play.

Electrically operated toys may give a shock if immersed in water or not handled properly. Instead buy those that work on batteries.

Small children love to wrap things around their necks. Toys with long strings may thus cause strangulation of a child in some unexpected situations.

The paint or coating on toys should not contain any dangerous chemicals. Some of the chemicals to be avoided are : ammonium nitrate, asbestos, lithium hydroxide, copper sulphate, selenium, chromium, barium, mercury, and all lead-based chemicals.

If a toy is such that a child will be tempted to stand on it, whether or not the toy is meant for this purpose, rest assured that he will try to stand on it! If it is an unstable toy, the child will fall and hurt himself badly. This includes toys such as tricycles, stools, etc. Sometimes, if a toy, a table or a chair is close to a window, it might entice a child to step on it to see the view outside. This may lead to a fall from the window. Such items should not be left near windows, or the windows should be kept locked or have grills/panes.

Teach older children to keep toys meant for them away from the younger ones. Encourage children to check and correct each other when unsafe measures are adopted at play. They can exchange their experiences and help each other.

Buy only those toys that are not hazardous for even the youngest member of the family.

Do not let your children use low profile riding toys such as plastic tricycles outside the house since these are too low to be seen by approaching cars. The plastic design also makes for poor traction, thus making the tricycle hard to manoeuvre or stop.

Skateboards excite a lot of youngsters but they generally do not know how to use them safety. A lot of accidents are caused by these. Proper protective equipment (non-slip shoes, hip, elbow and knee padding, helmet, special gloves, padded jackets) should be used.

All outdoor play equipment should be kept in good shape. This applies to swings, slides, see-saws, merry-go-rounds, etc. These should not be rusted, nor should they have sharp edges or corners, etc. The safe use of such equipment should be taught to children.

Games and toys should be stored safely. Ideally, the storage chest should have no lid. If it must have one, a sliding lid that will not cover a child if he falls into the chest, or one whose cover will remain open in any position, is preferable. The chest should have ventilation holes that will not be blocked if it is placed next to a wall. These holes can provide life-saving air should a child be trapped inside.

If a truck or other container is being used as a toy chest, remove the lid altogether to avoid the danger of a child falling in and the lid closing on him.

It is likely that with more sophisticated toys coming into the market, some specific precautions need to be taken. For this, it is essential that the instructions accompanying the toy be read and understood thoroughly.

Nowadays markets are flooded with imported toys especially Chinese make which are dirt cheap and attractively packaged but they are highly hazardous, unsafe, non-standard apart from most of them being of very inferior quality. We should avoid buying them.

Do not leave your child unattended at the beach. He can drown.

Keep your tiny tot away from pets and stray animals. They may bite or may even be carrying some infection.

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