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Make Safe Toys Your Holiday Priority
Date:12/20/2007

cessarily safer," she said.

And parents should know that just because a toy sits on a store shelf, that doesn't make it safe. U.S. PIRG reported finding some toys for children under 3 years of age with small parts but no warning label identifying the toys as a potential choking hazard.

Some toys can pose a hazard even if they meet the letter of the law. Last year, two small children suffocated when oversized, plastic toy nails sold with a play tool bench became lodged in their throats, U.S. PIRG said.

Toys containing tiny yet powerful magnets are raising new concerns among safety advocates.

A 2-year-old boy in Redmond, Wash., died in 2005 after ingesting magnets that had fallen out of plastic building blocks that the boy's 10-year-old brother was playing with. The magnets entered the boy's small intestine and then connected, twisting his intestine and forcing deadly bacteria into his bloodstream.

"They're very powerful, tiny little cylinders," Mierzwinski said. "Several get trapped and can fold the intestine to cause a blockage."

One of the first things parents should consider when choosing a toy is whether their child is old enough to enjoy it properly.

"You want to buy toys that are age-appropriate and show children how to use them," Bradley said.

Prevent Blindness America offers these other suggestions:

  • Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
  • Avoid toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods or dangerous edges.
  • Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
  • Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.

"Any sort of toy weapon, that's just got eye injury written all over it," Bradley said.

Parents also should look for the letters "ASTM" on the toy's packaging. This means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and
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