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Mike Ferrara
Mike Ferrara
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How to Avoid Unsafe Toys this Holiday Season

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Everyone wants kids to have fun and enjoy the holiday season, and for many of us, this means getting them new toys to play with. While most toys are designed to be safe for kids, and many of those that aren’t are discovered and recalled, there are still many dangerous toys that slip through the cracks. To keep the kids you love safe this holiday, keep the following toy safety precautions in mind.

· Make sure toys are age-appropriate. Follow guidelines on toy packaging when purchasing a gift for a small child. Also keep in mind any younger siblings that might have access to the toys of an older child.

· If you buy a bike, scooter or skateboard for a child, make sure the child also has an appropriate helmet.

· Be mindful of choking hazards for children under three, or for any child who still puts objects in his or her mouth. If an object can pass through a toilet paper tube, it can get lodged in a windpipe. Small balls and balloons are never safe for young children.

· Watch out for small magnets. Many toys and gadgets these days incorporate small, powerful magnets that are easily swallowed. If two or more such magnets are swallowed, they can stick together and cause life-threatening injuries.

· Avoid toys made of soft plastic. These often contain PVC, which is likely to contain lead or phthalates.

· If you do experience a safety-related incident with a toy, please report it immediately on Saferproducts.gov. This site is run by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which is responsible for recalling toys for safety concerns. Although it can take the CPSC months or years to successfully initiate a recall (companies particularly enjoy insisting that a dangerous toy remain on the shelves through the Christmas season, even if it poses a threat to children), Saferproducts.gov provides information on dangerous toys in real time.

· Check out the 10 Worst Toys List compiled by World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH)—and avoid any such toys with the potential to cause injuries.