December 5, 1998 | By: Ellen Brightwell

Holiday shoppers can make this season a memorable one for children by following some basic safety tips when buying toys.

"It's important read toy labels, paying close attention to information on how appropriate the gifts are to the ages of children on your shopping list. Reading the labels will help ensure that your gift is remembered for the child's or toddler's enjoyment, rather than an accident or serious injury caused because the toy wasn't age-appropriate," said Larry Piercy, Extension safety and health specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires labels on all toys that might pose a choking hazard for children under three years. The labels warn shoppers that the toy is not safe for younger children and identify why the toy is unsafe for these children.

Piercy cautioned parents and caregivers that toddlers or young children might injure themselves when playing with toys designed for older kids. Toys marketed for older children aren't always safe for toddlers' or very young children's play because these items might have choking hazards, such as loose parts, or sharp edges that could injure a younger child.

"To help prevent toy-related injuries or possibly worse, always read the labels and be safety conscious when shopping for toys during the holidays and all year long," he added. "Select toys to suit toddlers' or children's ages, abilities, interests and skills levels."

He gave these tips for shoppers:

* When shopping for infants or small children, avoid toys with small parts that can be pulled or broken off. Select toys that are too big to become caught in the throat, nose or ears.

* Consider the differences in children's ages when buying for several members of the same family because younger children often want to play with older brothers' or sisters' toys.

* For children under age eight years, avoid toys with sharp edges and points, as well as electrical toys with heating elements.

* Look for toys with sturdy construction. Small parts, such as eyes and noses, should be secured tightly.

* Since some toys are painted for decoration only, the paint might not be permanent and could flake off if a child puts the toy in its mouth. Read labels to be sure painted toys are safe.

* Check toy instructions for ease of understanding. The instructions should be clear to you and, when appropriate, to the child.

* Some toys have pull strings. Don't lengthen this string because the child might be injured by becoming tangled in the longer string.

* Be sure wooden toys are sanded and smooth to keep a child from getting splinters.

* Since plastic wrappings on some toys can cause suffocation, give children's parents or caregivers a tip about disposing of these materials immediately after opening the gift.

Contact: 

Writer: Ellen Brightwell
(606) 257-1376

Source: Larry Piercy
(606) 257-3000, Ext. 107