Holiday shopping for wee ones

By State Farm

As holiday shopping kicks off this year, you’re likely making a list and checking it twice — for recalls and age appropriateness.

Let’s be honest, how many of us do that when we’re storming the stores to find the perfect gift for the little ones in our lives? While recalls and lead violations are down; 180,000 toy-related child injuries were reported last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The commission released a report about toy safety. Buyers are warned to be vigilant, even as stronger federal rules and safety-conscious toy makers and sellers are making an impact when it comes to toy safety.

“Strong toy standards support the production of safer toys in the marketplace,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Parents and toy shoppers also always need to be vigilant by choosing age appropriate toys and keeping small parts, balls, and balloons out of the hands of young children.”

The commission reports toy-related deaths to children younger than 15 increased to 17 fatalities reported in 2010, up from 15 reported in 2009. Nearly half of these toy-related fatalities were attributed to choking on balloons, small balls, and rubber balls.

As you’re shopping this year, here are a few safety tips from CPSC to keep in mind:

• Balloons: Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old. Discard broken balloons at once.

• Small balls and other toys with small parts: For children younger than age 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

• Scooters and other riding toys: Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times, and they should be sized to fit.

• Magnets: For children under age 6, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

Once the gifts are open:

• Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous play things.

• Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.

• Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.

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