Parents should consider toy safety this holiday season

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Organizations like Friends for Sight remind parents to take toy safety into consideration when purchasing presents for their children as the holiday season approaches.

Friends for Sight is a nonprofit organization based in Salt Lake City with the purpose of promoting eye health. Around the holiday season the organization seeks to educate parents on the danger some toys may pose to children’s vision.

Fourteen-month-old Enele Olah plays with his large, safe toys.

Colleen Malouf, president and CEO of Friends for Sight, warns parents about toys with parts with moving parts and shooting pieces. “Things that can pop up and hit them in the eye can be dangerous if you let them get too close to it,” Malouf said.

According to Friends for Sight, 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented by taking the necessary precautions.

Malouf encourages parents to take suggested age levels for toys into consideration, as well as the child’s ability. Carefully read instructions and inspect the toy to ensure quality before giving it to the child.

“Don’t let children use damaged toys,” Malouf said, telling parents to repair or throw them away.

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission estimated 251,700 injuries from toys in 2010, the most recent release of data. Seventy-two percent of those injuries occurred in children under 15 years of age and 35 percent were sustained by children under five.

Casey Sartain is one of the owners of Tutoring Toy in Salt Lake City, a specialty toy shop that sells toys to development. Sartain tells parents to only buy toys from retailers they can trust.

“I always say the easiest way to make sure you are falling within the highest quality and highest safety is to buy from reputable retailers,” Sartain said. “Make sure that you are taking the time to make sure they are quality products. It does make a difference to buy from people and companies you can trust.”

Quality toys have taken a higher importance in recent years following the discovery of lead paint on some toys in 2007. Sartain said toy manufacturers are being watched much closer than before.

Since the scare, toys have been made in smaller batches to hopefully control quality. According to Sartain, parents can usually find certificates of conformity on a toy companies website or upon request. The certificate will show which batch a particular toy belonged to and will tell where the toy was manufactured as well as verify its been tested for safety.

While some parents may seek to cut costs this holiday season, Sartain believes that may cause harm to children. “Where you get into problems is when you go to extreme discounters,” Sartain said.

Kathleen McHugh of the American Specialy Toy Retailers Association said, “Toys with small parts are not appropriate for children under three. Parents can take precautions by separating toys for older children and keeping them in a separate toy box from the toys for young children.”

Kylee Olah, a young mother of two boys, must take into consideration their age difference when purchasing toys.

“With my older one we didn’t really have to worry about it because he’s always been great with it,” Olah said, “but our little one puts everything his mouth so even when we’re picking out Daniels toys, we’re now having to look at the size of them to make sure they’re not a choking hazard.”

As they start shopping for their children’s Christmas gifts, Sartain encourages parents to “know the companies. Know they care.”

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