The holiday season is upon us which means many parents are scouring the toy aisles in search of the perfect gift for their little ones.
But before you grab that toy off the shelf, make sure to look at the packaging and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, warns Liane Fransblow, a trauma coordinator at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Every year, the Montreal Children’s Hospital sees around 200 toy-related injuries.
Of those, half involve children under the age of two, 25 per cent involve children between the ages of three and four, while the rest involve older kids, according to Fransblow.
The most common type of injury is choking-related, that’s why Fransblow recommends following age guidelines on toys.
“They’re based not only on the developmental age of a child but the size of the product,” she said.
If you’ve gotten rid of the packaging, or the toy is a hand-me-down, Fransblow recommends doing the toilet paper roll test.
“The way the manufacturers do it is they have a small tube and they have to put the toy in and see if it fits,” she said explaining it’s the same principle with the toilet paper roll.
Small toys that fit through the toilet paper roll, should not be in the hands of young children.
Fransblow said it’s also important to check for small parts that can easily be pried off.
Another safety hazard when it comes to children’s toys are button batteries. Fransblow said it’s important to make sure button batteries are locked into the toy with small screws. The issue with button batteries isn’t so much the choking hazard, but the damage they can cause if ingested.
“The coating around the battery will erode and can cause a chemical burn,” Fransblow warned. “If it gets stuck in your esophagus, your esophagus is right next to your heart. So it can cause very serious damage.”
Button batteries aren’t just a concern in toys, parents of small children all know how much kids love to play with keys.
The problem with keys is that they’re often attached to a car starter, which houses small batteries.
“If you think your child swallowed a button battery, it is a medical emergency,” Fransblow said. “It needs to be removed within two hours so you need to go to a trauma centre.”
Magnets in toys can also pose a problem if swallowed.
But according to Fransblow, the real concern is with very strong magnets that go by different names including rare earth or earth magnets.
“Kids will put them in their mouth and swallow them,” she said. ”The problem is they’re very strong and they may become ‘unattracted’ within the digestive process but then in your intestines they actually re-attract and you”ll loose blood supply to the tissue around your intestines.”
In some cases, parts of the intestines need to be removed as a result.
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