Consider eye safety when buying toys — for holidays or any time of the year

A COMMON REFRAIN in the arena of occupational safety and health is “Protect your eyes. A second chance with sight is rare.” Coaching about the need for adult workers in construction, manufacturing, and other industries to wear eye protection is a common thread in the safety training offered by Safety Solutions & Supply.

Prevent Blindness, an organization that traces its history back to 1908. Prevent Blindness is the major sponsor of Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month each December. The campaign’s mission and messages are good for any month of the year, but the emphasis comes in December, in the midst of the holiday season, when toy and gift buying is at its peak.

Prevent Blindness reports that thousands of children age 14 and younger suffer serious eye injuries, including blindness, from toys each year. Adults can greatly reduce the chances of those injuries by:

  • Only buying toys meant for a child’s age range.
  • Showing children how to use their toys safely.
  • Keeping a watch on children when they’re playing — with or without toys.

Prevent Blindness offers the following guidelines for toy selection at Christmastime or for any time of the year:

Before purchasing a toy:

  • Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
  • Ask yourself if the toy is right for your child’s ability and age.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
  • Check the lenses and frames of children’s sunglasses; many can break and cause injuries.
  • Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
  • Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by ASTM International.
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. Remember that BB guns are NOT toys.

Before letting children play with toys:

  • Inspect toys for a safe, sturdy construction.
  • Explain how to use the toy.
  • Fix or throw away broken toys.

Always:

  • Keep young children away from toys meant for older children.
  • Supervise your children while playing.
  • Store toys properly after play to avoid risks or falls.
  • Supervise children’s craft projects. (Scissors and glue can be extremely dangerous to a child’s eyesight.)
  • Have children wear the right eye protection for sports (face shields, helmets, eye guards).

If you’re buying sports items or equipment, such as basketball, baseball or hockey, Prevent Blindness suggests that proper sports eye protection also be included. Recommendations may be found at www.preventblindness.org/recommended-sports-eye-protectors.

Here are some of the injury statistics the Prevent Blindness toy-safety campaign is trying to reduce:

  • Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that U.S. hospital emergency departments treated an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries.
  • An estimated 80,100 of the injuries above were to children younger than age 5.
  • Approximately 45 percent (or 107,400) of the total injuries cited above were to the head and face area, the area of the body with the most injuries.

For more information about safe toys and gifts for children, you can visit preventblindness.org/safe-toy-checklist or call Prevent Blindness at 800-331-2020.

To learn about other common toddler accidents and injuries and how you can take steps to prevent them, check out Smart Parent Advice.

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