Youngsters’ eyes light up each holiday season at the sight of toys. Gift-giving during the holiday season is practiced by people of various faiths and backgrounds, and the joy of giving is only increased when witnessing the excited children unwrap gifts. Though no gift giver wants to imagine children being hurt while playing with their toys, it’s important that adults recognize the dangers posed by certain toys. Regulations mandating the safe production of electric toys have been in place for decades, but the risk of injury remains. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recognizes that threat and offers the following tips to consumers who intend to give children electric toys this holiday season.
• Heed the age recommendations. The CPSC notes that children should never be given toys, including electric toys, that are made for older kids. The idea that kids “will grow into it” may entice some consumers to ignore age recommendations, but that only puts youngsters at risk. Age recommendations are the minimum age children should be before they play with a toy.
• Consider kids’ maturity levels. Children mature at different paces, so even kids who meet or exceed the minimum age listed on the package may not necessarily be capable of safely playing with the electric toy. To determine if a child is mature enough for a given toy, consumers can consult with the child’s parents or, if buying for their own children, pay particular attention to how the child plays with age-appropriate toys he or she already has. If the child tends to gravitate toward toys designed for younger children, he or she might not yet be ready for electric toys designed for his or her age.
• Carefully and clearly explain the toy to children. Before allowing a child to play with a new electric toy, parents should carefully read the instructions and then read them aloud to their children. Play with the child when he or she uses the toy until you are confident the youngster understands the toy and how to operate it safely. The CPSC recommends parents always supervise children when they’re using electric toys and make sure that toys that must be plugged into the wall fit snugly into the outlets. Prevent electrical shock by ensuring prongs are never exposed.
• Store toys safely. Safe storage also is vital to prevent electric toy-related injuries. Store electric toys in dry areas that are not accessible to children.
• Inspect toys regularly. Routine inspections of electric toys can alert parents to broken parts, frayed cords and/or damage to enclosures of wiring and other protected components. If parts like batteries or bulbs need to be replaced, make sure children know that only adults are allowed to replace them.
Electric toys can be hazardous to children. But parents and gift givers can take various steps to ensure kids stay safe when playing with electric toys.