Break Point!

Volume 3, Issue 11 View the Archives November, 2000
Get Ready for the Holidays
Holiday Safety Planner
Santa's Little Helper - Buying Safe Toys for Christmas
Gifts for Everyone on your List
Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Get Ready for the Holidays

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

As soon as Halloween is over our thoughts begin to think about Christmas. It has become a tradition to many to start their Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving. Many of the stores have their Christmas decorations up and are preparing for the rush of shoppers.

This issue of Break Point will guide you through the tough decisions of gift giving for children. Toys are an integral part of children’s growth and development, choosing toys that are safe will help them grow mentally and physically.

Kick scooters the fad of the year, can kids keep safe? Break Point will provide tips to help kids ride safely.

Having trouble finding new gift ideas for the adults in your life? Break Point has a list of safe holiday gifts for everyone on your list.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.

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Holiday Safety Planner

Holiday carols will soon fill the air. We take great measures to assure our holidays are memorable. However, we need to make just as many preparations to assure they are safe. Your family will enjoy the beauty of your decorations and stay safe if you follow these tips.

  1. Artificial trees should be made of flame-retardant material.

  2. Buy a fresh tree that smells like pine and be sure its needles are hard to pull from the branches. Saw about two inches off the trunk. Check the water level daily; never let it run dry.

  3. Check old holiday light sets each year for cracks, frayed sections, or broken wires before hanging them. Never use decorative "indoor" light strings outdoors. Use no more than three standard sets of lights per outlet.

  4. Unplug all electrical decorations when leaving the house or going to bed.

  5. Use only UL or NOEL Laboratory-approved lights. Decorate only with flame retardant or noncombustible materials.

  6. Do not use electric lights on metallic trees; use spotlights instead.

  7. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers make thoughtful holiday gifts.

  8. Keep candles, lighting wires and decorations out of children's reach. Avoid decorations that resemble candy or food.

  9. Keep toddlers away from the kitchen when cooking and baking.

  10. Poisonous holiday plants include holly berries, mistletoe, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis. Keep them away from children and pets.

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Santa's Little Helper - Buying Safe Toys for Christmas

Toys are fun and they help children learn about themselves, their environment and the people around them. Unfortunately, some toys can be dangerous. Poorly constructed toys or toys that are inappropriate for your child's level of development can lead to tragic results.

Always remember that supervision is the most important safety factor that you can provide to protect a child from harm, and that safety and age appropriateness are the most important considerations when selecting a toy for your children, your grandchildren, or any children you care for.

Here are some general rules to follow when choosing a toy for your child:

  • Have a close look at the toy. Inspect the toy to see whether it looks well-designed and well made. Do you think it could withstand the unexpected?
  • Check for choking hazards. For small children, make sure the toy and its parts are of a sufficiently large size. It is illegal for toys (and their parts) suitable for children under 3 years of age to be so small that they can be a choking hazard. As a guide, if a toy and/or one of its parts can fit into a 35mm film canister, don't buy it for a child under 3.
  • Look for sharp points or edges on the toy. Sharp points or edges could easily injure your child. If a sharp point is essential to the function of the toy, (toy sewing machine) make sure you give your child proper instruction and supervision.
  • Does the toy fit the developmental needs and skill of your child? Toys that are meant for older children can be dangerous for young children.
  • Be a label reader. Look for and follow age recommendations, and instructions about proper assembly, use and supervision.
  • Make sure your child understands any important instructions. Don't simply rely on high prices and the opinions of others as a guide to safety and quality. Closely inspect the toy yourself and use your own judgment.

Safety At Home

There are a number of things you can do at home to ensure your child's play time is safe and toys are used safely:

  • Always remove and immediately discard all packaging before giving it to a baby or small child.
  • Supervise your child's play. Proper toy construction and selection is not enough. It is your responsibility to ensure your child is playing in a safe environment. It is always best to explain and demonstrate to your child the correct, safe use of the toy when first giving it to them and to supervise your child during play.
  • Care for toys. Check all toys regularly for breakage or potential hazards such as a loose part which could be a choking danger. A damaged or dangerous toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.
  • Keep toys (and parts of toys) designed for older children out of the hands of little ones. Your child may like to be with an older playmate but some older children's toys may not be safe for little ones to use without very close supervision.
  • Store toys safely. Teach children to put their toys away on shelves or in a toy box after playing to prevent trips or falls.

Toys for Children Under 3

By law, toys suitable for children under three years must not be so small that a child could choke on them or release small parts that a child could choke on.

Any toy or part of a toy that fits completely in a 35mm film canister is considered dangerous as it could choke or be swallowed or inhaled by a child under 3 years old.

Age labels on toys are only to be used as a guide.

Examples of toys suitable for children under 3 years of age:

  • Toys to be grasped, shaken or rattled by small hands.
  • Simple action toys for surprise or identifying sounds or pictures.
  • Toys, including books, for recognizing basic letters and numbers.
  • Toys for sorting large shapes that do not need finger dexterity.

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Gifts for Everyone on your List

Every year people spend hours shopping in stores and thumbing through catalogues trying to find the gift for “the person who has everything”. Thinking of the gifts to buy is almost as time consuming as going to the store to purchase the gifts.

This year try putting together a safety basket. Tell the people in your life you care about them and their safety. Choose some of the gifts from the list or think of other safety minded gifts of your own.

Put together a basket with one or more of the following:

  • Smoke detectors and batteries.
  • A quality fire extinguisher.
  • A flashlight, batteries or light sticks.
  • A first-aid kit
  • A carbon monoxide detector.
  • A mobile phone and a calling card.
  • A bicycle helmet

When buying new in-line skates, bicycle, scooter, or a skateboard for the younger members on your list put together a package with safety gear appropriate for the sport:

  • Helmets, knee- pads, elbow pads and wrist guards.
  • A multi-purpose helmet for inline skating and skateboarding and extreme sport gloves
  • Ski helmet and goggles that go with the new pair of skis.
  • A soccer ball and shin guards and spikes.

Here is a list of other safety-minded gifts to choose:

  • Booster seats for children between 40-80 pounds.
  • Child safety devices, such as; electrical covers, toilet seat locks, door knob covers and cabinet locks.
  • For seniors, non-slip bathmat, night-lights for each of the rooms in their house, carpet backing for area rugs or railings for the bathtub.

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Surf's Up- A guide To Internet Sites On The Web

Everyone could use extra help, especially around the holidays. The web sites in this month’s Surf’s Up will give guides to safe toy buying and holiday safety.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

This web site has tips for safe toy buying. You may copy the tip sheet and take it to the store to help guide you when purchasing toys for children under 12.

Safe America

This web site provides easy to read articles that pertain to holiday safety, winter driving and travelers safety. The web site also has articles on other interesting injury prevention topics.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is not only a site for professionals, but has interesting articles to read for the lay- person too. This site has articles that provide tips for the holiday season, such as; holiday safety, Christmas tree safety and toy safety.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Super Sitter

This is the perfect site for parents of teenage babysitters or for teen baby sitters. The “Super Sitter” guide provides tips to help sitters prevent unintentional injuries to the children they care for.

Many people will be traveling, shopping or attending parties and relying on babysitters to care for their children during the holiday season. Print a copy for anyone you know who will be babysitting for children it is an excellent resource!

*It is important to note that children who have access to the Internet should get permission from their parents first. Parents should observe their children while they use the Internet to help them avoid dangerous situations while they surf.

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

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