As the holiday shopping season approaches, federal safety officials are warning consumers about the injury risks associated with various types of toys, including non-motorized scooters and other non-powered riding products, which may be more prone to causing an injury that results in hospitalization or death.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a report last month, titled “Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries”, indicating that more than 226,000 U.S. hospital emergency room visits were linked to childrens’ toys last year, with at least 17 toy-related deaths last year.
The report highlights certain types of toys that were most associated with injury and fatality events, warning consumers to always purchase age-appropriate toys and supervise activity with the products.
Researchers pulled toy-related emergency department data from the Consumer Product Safety Risk Management System (CPSRMS) and National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) for the 2018 calendar year.
Among the products with the highest fatality statistics were non-motorized scooters and non-motorized riding toys. At least five of the deaths reported last year inolved these types of scooters and riding toys, including three children who drove them into the street and were hit by an oncoming vehicle, and two unsupervised children who accidentally rode them into a pool and drowned.
Choking hazards were another of the most commonly found causes of death across several types of toy, including balloons, plastic toy food, stuffed toys, dolls and dart guns, which contain pieces that may result in an airway obstruction or suffocation risk if parts are swallowed.
While the majority of injuries, 96%, involved individuals who were treated and released at the emergency department, three percent of the cases involved injuries severe enough to require hospital admission.
According to the report, 70% of the injuries recorded involved children under 12 years of age, and 37% involved children younger than five years of age. An estimated 39% of emergency department-treated injuries were classified as lacerations, contusions, or abrasions, while 46% of the injuries were to the face and head.
Every year toy sales reach more than $26 billion dollars across the U.S. and many consumers purchase items online, without ever seeing the product or evaluating whether it is safe and age appropriate for their child.
According to previous research by the CPSC, toy-related injuries have been on an upward trend over the last two decades, recording more than a 40% increase in related injuries from 1990 to 2011. In 2015 alone, more than 250,000 toy-related injuries were recorded while 72 children died from toy-related incidents between 2010 and 2015.
Despite toy recalls steadily declining, CPSC official’s project that on average one child is treated in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury.
In a recent Home Safe Home released issued this month by the CPSC, the agency outlines recommendations for parents and caregivers to follow which include:
- Follow age guidance and other safety information on the toy packaging, and choose toys that match your child’s interests and abilities.
- Get safety gear, including helmets for scooters and other riding toys –helmets should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.
- Keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3, and keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old (discard broken balloons at once).