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Make holiday memories, and not trips to the ER

A kid-like anticipation engulfs me each Christmas when I see beautifully wrapped presents under the tree with my name on them. They seemingly beckon and I can’t resist the urge to look, shake and inspect each one (with hopes the tape comes off the corner so I can sneak a peek.) Memories flood back of certain special presents I received as a child – my first bicycle, a Malibu Barbie, a gold jewelry box with red velvet lining.

Now, shopping as an adult for my own children, I’m constantly in search of that “one” gift that will create special memories they can cherish into adulthood. As a parent, I also want to make sure the toys I choose for them are safe. Each year, we are warned about the dangers of toxic levels of lead paint, magnetized toys that cause intestinal blockages when pieces are swallowed, and toys that pose choking or strangulation hazards.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, at least 19 toy-related deaths occurred in the United States in 2008 and there were also about 235,300 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms.

Trauma Services at Scott & White, along with Safe Kids Mid Texas, have five important tips when it comes to holiday toy shopping for and with your children:

  1. Before shopping for toys, consider the child’s age, interest and skill level. A fun, but inappropriate toy for a particular child can be dangerous.
  2. Keep toys with small parts away from children under age three. They can choke on small toys and toy parts.
  3. Shopping at a second hand shop this holiday season? Check recalls.gov to make sure kids’ products and toys are safe and haven’t been recalled.
  4. Bikes or scooters make great holiday gifts. But remember that a helmet is a necessity, not an accessory when it comes to wheeled sports.
  5. Consider alternatives to putting children in shopping carts including strollers and carts that have plastic mini-cars or trucks attached to the front or back. If you must use a cart, make sure your child stays seated and is secured by a seat belt.

In an effort to reduce the number of dangerous toys in the marketplace, W.A.T.C.H Inc. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) produced a “10 Worst Toys” list and offerered tips on what parents should look out for during their holiday toy shopping. Parents can also check out lists of toys and other products that have been recalled at recalls.gov. By joining the email subscription list, you are automatically notified when a product is recalled.

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Make holiday memories, and not trips to the ER