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FOR RELEASE: December 5, 2000
Give Kids Gifts with Safety in Mind
As the packed-to-the-ceiling shelves at your local toy store beckon you with promises of exciting play for your child, keep safety at the top of your list as you shop this holiday season.
"The excitement of a new toy can turn tragic if adults do not factor safety into their gift-giving traditions", said Martha Collar, coordinator of the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "Parents should consider whether the toy is appropriate for the child's age and whether the gift requires accessories such as special protective gear."
Last year, more than 120,000 toy-related injuries were sustained by children ages 14 and under. Innocent-looking toys--such as marbles and balloons--present a choking hazard to small children. Other hazards include toys with small parts, sharp points and edges, toxic paint, flammable materials and long strings that can be a strangulation risk. The Child Safety Protection Act, a federal toy labeling law, requires manufactures to place warning labels on toys that pose a choking hazard to young children. When selecting a toy for your child, avoid:
"If a toy is too advanced or is easily broken, the child is not going to enjoy it", said Collar. "More importantly, the toy then becomes a hazard to the child. Toys should be interesting to the child and also be well constructed, durable and safe."
"Parents should not give children advanced toys, thinking the child is ready or the toy will serve as a challenge", she said. "Age guidelines, when available, should be followed. They are intended as much for safety as for developmental guidelines."
"Parents should know that they can't depend entirely on the government or toy manufacturers to keep their child safe. Parents should still use their own good judgment in selecting toys. Don't assume that just because it's on the market it's safe", said Collar, adding that only about 1 percent of all toys is ever tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those toys that are tested, about one-sixth are so unsafe as to warrant a voluntary recall.
This year to help you in your search for the perfect gift for your child, SAFE KIDS offers the following guide for selecting the most suitable toys:
This is just a partial list of safe and age-appropriate toys for children. Use it as a guide during your next toy-shopping trip. For a more complete list, call (405) 271-5695, for a free copy of the "Play Smart Holiday Guide to Toy Safety."
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