Summer officially kicks off today, and the Boston-based watchdog group, World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) has released its annual list of the top ten safety traps parents need to be aware of as their children prepare for a summer of fun.
At a press conference at Franciscan Children’s in Boston, Consumer Advocates Joan E. Siff, President of WATCH, and James A. Swartz, a nationally known trial attorney and director of WATCH, gave parents and caregivers important safety information to keep in mind during the summer. Although it’s a time for carefree fun, hospital emergency departments will treat about 2.5 million children this summer for injuries due to accidents that could have been avoided.
Topping the list of popular toys that have caused serious injury to children are the enormously popular fidget spinners. These toys have fallen apart and small pieces have become lodged in the throats of young children. Two recent cases involve a 10 year-old in Texas and a five year-old in Oregon who choked on fidget spinner parts. One of the children had to have the piece of the toy surgically removed.
Hoverboards are also on the top of the list of toys that pose serious safety concerns. Ever since 2015 when they first made headlines for spontaneously catching fire, there have been numerous reports of fires started by the toy’s lithium battery exploding. Just this year, a three year-old girl died in a fire associated with a hoverboard that was plugged into an outlet for charging. Also this year, babysitters had to rescue eight children who were trapped in a house fire that was allegedly caused by a charging hoverboard.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission officially declared hoverboards to be unsafe due to “an unreasonable risk of fire” and cautioned “consumers risk serious injury and death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn.”
Another popular summer activity to be wary of are bounce houses. As the WATCH report states, “the inherent danger of a ‘toy’ that invites children to jump and bounce in close proximity to each other is not worth the risk.” There have also been numerous reports of bounce houses falling over or being blown away. In April of this year, five children in South Caroline were sent to the hospital when the bounce house they were playing in became airborne. From 2003 to 2013, inflatable amusements were responsible for approximately 113,272 injuries, 90 percent of which involved bounce houses, as well as 12 deaths.
Backyard trampolines are also very popular even though they are linked to catastrophic injuries. “Netting, padding and adult supervision have not prevented the numerous injuries relating to trampoline use and may provide a false sense of security,” WATCH reports.
Trampolines cause about 100,000 injuries each year, with one in every 200 resulting in permanent neurological damage. In addition, 22 trampoline-related deaths occurred between 2000 and 2009. For this reason the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against the use of home trampolines due to the potential for permanent and devastating consequences.
Other safety traps include toys with batteries and small parts such as the Hobby Lobby Light Up Spinner Toy which was recalled because the battery cover can detach exposing a small coin cell battery posing an ingestion and choking hazard to young children.
Non-motorized scooters are responsible for the most toy-related injuries due to riding these toys near traffic and/or without protective safety gear. An estimated 53,000 injuries resulting from this type of toy were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2015 with 45,900 of these injuries being to children under 15 years of age. In the same year, there were also four deaths involving these scooters and motor vehicles.
Parents can avoid many hazards relating to toys and recreational activities by remaining vigilant, identifying safety red flags, and knowing the facts. They are also advised to regularly examine the toys in their child’s toy box to make sure they are safe with no loose parts or exposed batteries.
And most important of all, “Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that a toy is safe simply because it is popular,” Siff said.
Making parents aware of these hazards will go a long way in keeping our children safe this summer!
Click here to read the 2017 WATCH list.
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