By Renée McCabe, RN, BSN

Did you know that more than a third of all toy-related injuries happen to children age 4 and under? Toys and games provide loads of enjoyment and education for children, but you’ve got to play it safe when it comes to toys.

Whether your kids are working on a puzzle, playing with building blocks, or even inventing their own games, here are some Safe Kids recommendations to promote safe play:

  • Age matters: Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game.
  • Read the label: It’s worth your time to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure a toy is just right for your child.
  • Check for choking hazards: Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards. Keep a special eye on small game pieces that may be a choking hazard for young children. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
  • Beware of other toy dangers: Avoid toys with projectiles such as darts that could cause eye injuries. Cap guns should not be given to children younger than 8 years as they can be ignited by the slightest friction and cause serious burns. Toys with strings, straps and cords longer than seven inches are a strangulation hazard.
  • Watch out for lead. Avoid toys that contain lead paint. Even at low levels, lead exposure can impair cognitive function and I.Q. Likewise, discard toys containing lead that are already in the home.
  • Protect their heads: If your children have their hearts set on a new bike, skateboard, scooter or other riding equipment, be sure to include a helmet to keep them safe while they’re having fun.
  • Store appropriately: After play time is over, use a bin or container to store toys for next time. Make sure there are no holes or hinges that could catch little fingers. Also, store toys of older and younger children separately.
  • Stay informed about toy recalls. Safe Kids compiles product recalls specific to children and sends twice-monthly e-mail alerts for recent recalls. Sign-up for the latest recall information at

In 2010, an estimated 181,500 children were treated in an emergency room for a toy-related injury. Keep your children safe. Don’t play around with toy safety.

Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent unintentional injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 19. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about local Safe Kids programs, call 706-721-7606, or visit

This article appears in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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