Pick Fun AND Safe Gifts this Holiday Season

“Don’t let your ‘toy story’ be about a trip to the hospital,” said Bradley Fuhrman, M.D., chair of the TTUHSC El Paso Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of the El Paso Children’s Hospital. It’s estimated that 265,000 toy-related injuries were seen in hospital emergency rooms in 2012 according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC). Of those seen, 72 percent were children under age 15, and approximately 89,500 were under the age of five. “The single best tip I can give is to buy ‘age appropriate’ gifts. Manufacturers are careful to label their toys based on age related safety concerns,” said Dr.Fuhrman.

According to the CPSC, the toys associated with the most injuries were toy balls, non-motorized scooters, and toy vehicles. “When you purchase bikes, skateboards, or skates, don’t forget to include the helmet and other essential safety gear,” said Alan Tyroch, M.D., chairman for the TTUHSC El Paso Department of Surgery and University Medical Center trauma director. “BB guns and pellet guns are NOT toys and can cause serious injury.” If you do choose to purchase one of these items for your child, Dr. Tyroch stresses to make sure the child is always supervised and says, “eye protection is a must.”

Dr. Tyroch points out that a new television – a grown up version of a toy – has the potential to seriously injure or even kill child. “Make sure the TV is secured either to the wall or desk,” said Dr. Tyroch. “Nationally, there are approximately 17,000 emergency department visits each year due to children being injured by a TV. And every three weeks, a child is killed from a TV falling on the child.”

“Enjoy your time together as family and friends and foster an environment of joy, thankfulness and warmth,” said Michael Escamilla, M.D., director of the TTUHSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Center of Excellence in Neurosciences.  “Your children will keep those memories of time spent together and details of this year’s ‘must have’ gifts will soon fade.”

Dr. Escamilla reminds parents that the most important gift parents can give to their children over the holidays is love and time.  “That’s what they (and you) most need during this holiday season. Don’t let financial constraints and concerns get in the way of making good memories and enjoying your time together,” said Dr. Escamilla. “Celebrate what you have, the passage of another year, and find a symbolic expression for whatever form of renewal and rebirth you might practice or be open to on a spiritual level.”

Here are some safety tips for consumers to keep in mind this holiday season:

  • Keep toys with magnets away from small children. They are dangerous if swallowed.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with small parts for children younger than three years of age, especially small balls.
  • After opening gifts, keep older siblings’ toys away from younger family members.
  • Adults should also supervise battery charging since most chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children.

To learn more about safe toys and gifts, go to http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2015/North-American-Collaboration-Expands-Toy-Safety-Efforts.