A 10-year-old spends time outside during the first snow of the winter season.

It is that time of year again. Parents, family, and friends are looking for the perfect gift for the little ones in their lives. You search high and low for the items on a child’s wish list, hoping to make his or her holiday the best ever. Nothing beats the joy of seeing a child opening presents.

But, many questions arise when purchasing the perfect toy:

  • Does it need batteries?
  • Do I have the right tools to assemble the gift?
  • But, the most important question you should ask is “Is this toy safe”?

In the US, 262,300 children were treated in the emergency room for toy related injuries in 2011. 45% of those injuries were to the head and face. More than 1/3 of all toy-related injuries are to children 4 and under.

You can avoid toy-related injuries and death by always reading labels and being safety-conscious.

The following tips will help you choose appropriate toys this holiday season and all year long:

  • Find the Perfect Toy for the Right Age: Always read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it is age appropriate. Also, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts that present a choking hazard.
  • Don’t forget a helmet: If a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, skis or snowboards are on your list, don’t forget to purchase a helmet. To learn more about helmet safety, go to www.livephat.org
  • Store Toys after Play: When playtime is over, put all toys in a bin or container until next time. Use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch or squeeze.
  • Sign up to Receive Product Recalls: Safe Kids compiles product recalls specific to children and sends twice-monthly e-mail alerts for recent recalls. Sign-up for the latest recall information at  SafeKids.org You can also go to recalls.gov for additional information about product recalls related to kids.

The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center wishes everyone a safe, happy, and healthy holiday Season.

Christina Keating is the Injury Prevention Coordinator in Trauma at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.

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