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Children should spend the holidays with friends and family, not in the emergency room

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By Mark Siegel, MD

The holiday shopping season is in full swing for retailers as well as shoppers who are eager to purchase everything on their lists.  But, when it comes to toys and gifts, the lowest sale price may not be the safest for children.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates in its most recent report that hospital emergency rooms treated 251,700 toy-related injuries in 2010 throughout the United States.  Of that number, 72 percent of injuries were to those less than 15 years of age.
Additionally, the CPSC found that 46 percent of the estimated 251,700 ER-treated injuries occurred to the head and face area. Lacerations, abrasions and contusions made up most of these injuries.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month.  The group encourages everyone to make conscientious purchasing decisions based on what is best for each individual child.
In the excitement of the season, sometimes we may forget that not every gift is appropriate for every child. By taking a few, easy safety precautions, we can keep the holidays happy for everyone!
My advice:
• Make recommendations to family members and friends about gifts that you feel are appropriate for your child.  Be diligent about inspecting these gifts before allowing your child to play with them.
• Inspect all toys before purchasing.  Monitor toys that your child has received as gifts to make sure they are appropriate for your child’s age and developmental level.
• For younger children, avoid play sets with small magnets and make sure batteries are secured within the toy. If magnets or batteries are ingested, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
• Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles or a face guard with a new batting helmet for baseball or softball).
Here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy Holiday Season.

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