christmas toys 700 x 350By definition, toys are fun objects for children to play with.

Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous. A study found that a child goes to the emergency room every three minutes from an injury sustained playing with a toy – many of them the ride-on variety, such as scooters.

Most of the injuries – occurring at an average age of five but peaking at two – was not extremely serious. One of 10 children hurt by a toy broke or dislocated a bone, but any parent knows that even one trip to the emergency room is too much.

Southeastern Med offers the following tips to help keep children as safe as possible while using their new toys:

  1. Make sure it’s age-appropriate: Consider whether your child is mature enough to make smart choices while using the toy. If you’re unsure, refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  2. Consider choke hazard: Review toys closely to make sure there aren’t small parts that children under three could choke on. Pieces should be at least 1 ¼” in diameter and 2 ¼” long to prevent choking.
  3. Don’t forget safety gear: If you do buy riding toys (skateboards, scooters, etc.), remember to include helmets, knee pads and elbow pads as well. It’s also important to make sure they fit properly. Closely supervise children under eight on riding toys.
  4. Avoid long strings or cords: Longer straps and strings can be dangerous to younger children. Avoid toys with cords longer than a few inches.
  5. Be careful with electricity: Inspect electrical toys for hot spots before letting children play with them and recheck them occasionally to make sure they’re not damaged. Electronic toys should be labeled UL, meaning they have been inspected by safety company Underwriter Laboratories.
  6. Repel flames: Make sure all fabric toys are flame resistant.
  7. Gun safety: To avoid confusion with the real thing, toy guns should be brightly colored. Children under 16 should not use BB guns, pellet guns or air rifles.