A consumer advocacy group known as World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc., or W.A.T.C.H., is releasing a report describing which summer toys are posing the greatest safety hazards to children. The annual list provides a detailed collection of items that parents should display caution in using or that should be banned altogether. President of W.A.T.C.H. Joan E. Siff and Director of W.A.T.C.H. James A. Swartz, collect an annual list of toys that have been recalled in order to provide parents with an overview of what could cause potential harm to their children.
In most cases adult supervision is sufficient in terms of preventing injuries. But for certain toys W.A.T.C.H. would advise parents to discontinue use immediately.
One of the toys that require diligent adult supervision is the non-motorized scooter. If your child were to use a non-motorized scooter, it is strongly suggested that a parent or guardian should accompany the child if they are riding near traffic. Proper safety gear is also necessary for any child using a non-motorized scooter or other forms of riding toys. Alarming rates of children, 50,000 under the age of 15, are being hospitalized due to injuries stemming from non-motorized riding toys. Injuries can span from scrapes and bruises to more severe issues such as brain damage or even death. Preventative measures should be taken immediately in order to stop future issues from arising.
Another item that poses a threat that most parents may not be aware of are pool-related floatation devices. Even though they are commonly revered as items that help assist children stay afloat while swimming, these devices could lead to drownings if the children are not properly overseen. Floaties are not an acceptable substitute to parental supervision. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children between the ages of 1-4 years old. You are required to watch your children at all times while they are in the water, regardless of whether or not they are using inflatable devices. W.A.T.C.H. states that on average nine people a day will drown and one out of every four of these cases involve children under the age of 14. Proactivity is one of the easiest ways to keep danger at bay.
One of the toys on the list that W.A.T.C.H. would strongly advise parents to disregard altogether is the usage of realistic-looking toy guns. Too often there are occasions that arise in which the toy weapons cannot be distinguished from real life guns. Just recently a 12 year old boy in Ohio was shot and killed by police officers that were under the impression that the fake weapon that he was carrying was in fact real. Tragedies such as these are devastating and preventable. Often, toy weapons are equipped with a bright orange nozzle to indicate to bystanders that the weapon is not real. Do not remove these caps, and do not purchase items that come without one already provided. In spite of this, realistic toy guns are probably best left unpurchased and unused.
Parents are advised to monitor drawstrings on children’s clothing as well as instructing children to remove their helmets when using playground equipment. In terms of the drawstrings, if they were to catch on something (i.e. equipment, in doors, or around other objects) children may be strangulated. At least 27 children have died from asphyxiation between the years of 2001-2008. W.A.T.C.H. goes on to provide statistics on playground related deaths but does not detail specifically how helmets contribute to the deaths themselves.
One of the items rounding out the list is the usage of baby pools. Like the pool related floatation devices, W.A.T.C.H. greatly encourages parents and guardians to diligently supervise their children while in the pool, even a shallow one. Young children can drown in as little as 2 inches of water if they are left alone while swimming. 92% of death and injuries while drowning occur at home–never leave your children unattended.
W.A.T.C.H. also believes that trampolines are an item that parents should not allow their children to use. Even with the nets and padding that trampolines come equipped with nowadays, they still pose an enormous threat to child safety. Since 2009 there have been over 79,000 injuries stemming from trampoline usage. The structure of the trampoline has the potential to seriously injure children—anything spanning from fractures to spine injuries and possibly even paralysis. While trampolines may seem like fun to kids, they’re probably better off staying far away.
Inflatable houses or “bouncy houses” can also endanger the safety of children in extreme circumstances. While they are generally regarded as being safe, there have been a few isolated incidents over the past few months which caused injuries to the kids playing inside them. Bouncy houses have the ability to become ejected into the air by a strong wind. While there are no definitive measures that can be taken in order to prevent these issues from arising, parents should just be sure to monitor the situation while kids are playing inside the inflatable houses.
Summer should be a time of fun and enjoyment for parents and children alike. Knowledge of these products and the affects they may render is the first step that needs to be taken in order to prevent injury or loss of life. Being proactive in how you handle these toys is the best thing you can do to ensure your child’s safety.
*Statistics provided by W.A.T.C.H. can be found in the original article: http://www.boston.com/life/moms/2015/06/30/summer-toy-hazards-for/gPrjUDiYWfw5AdpaNhVMIO/story.html?p1=stream