General Safety Tips

  • Set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees F.
    At higher temperatures, it only takes three seconds to burn a child’s skin severely enough to require surgery.

  • Memorize this phone number: 800-222-1222.
    From anywhere in the United States, this toll-free number will connect you to the local Poison Control Center. Call this hotline if a child has ingested any substance that isn’t food — but if a child is choking or having trouble breathing, call 911.

  • Test your smoke alarms every month.
    Make sure you have working smoke alarms in every sleeping area. Also check for fire hazards such as frayed electrical wires or flammable materials near heating appliances.

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in every sleeping area and near fuel-burning appliances.
    This invisible, odorless gas can be fatal.

  • Put safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway.
    Gates installed with hardware are safer than pressure gates.

  • Cover unused electrical outlets.
    You can buy plastic outlet covers or just use duct tape.

  • Keep firearms unloaded and locked out of reach.
    And lock up ammunition in a separate place.

  • Keep emergency numbers by every phone.
    In addition to the numbers for fire and emergency medical services, keep numbers for the pediatrician and a neighbor handy.

  • Check your first aid kit to make sure it is fully stocked.
    Make sure babysitters know where to find first aid supplies and how to handle an emergency.

Toy Safety

Each year, approximately 217,000 toy-related injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide. But on average, only 15 children under the age of 14 die from a toy-related injury.

Each year since 2000, an average of 20 children ages 14 and under have died from a toy-related incident. Since 2000, it is estimated that an average of 168,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency departments for toy-related injuries each year.

To sign up for recall emails, go to http://www.cpsc.gov/ and click on Sign up for Email Announcements. Report safety concerns about toys to the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov. Your experience could be part of a pattern that might lead to a recall. Parents and caregivers shouldn't hesitate to report defects or design features that seem dangerous.

Most toys are safe, especially if you buy from a reputable retailer. That doesn't mean you have to go to a 'big box' store, but if you shop at a locally-owned toy store, make sure that the owner is aware and vigilant about getting recalled items off the shelves. Avoid used toys, which could have been recalled and not removed from circulation.

If you buy toys secondhand or get hand-me-downs, visit www.cpsc.gov to make sure the toy hasn't been recalled for safety reasons. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, mail it in right away so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the CPSC to issue a rule outlining labeling requirements for toy and game advertising in catalogues and other printed materials. The rule applies to catalogues and other printed materials that provide a direct means of purchase or order for toys and games intended for children ages 3 to 6. Under the new rule, any toy or game that currently requires a choking warning for small parts, balloons, small balls or marbles on the product packaging must be advertised with the same warning in any catalogue or other printed item.

Recommendations

  • Kids should only play with toys made for their age and instruction manuals shouldn't be overlooked.
  • Parents should check over the toys and read all the instructions and warning labels before letting kids play. If the toy needs assembled, parents need to follow the directions and make sure it's done properly.
  • All toys are clearly marked if they have small parts; do not buy toys with small parts (or allow a child under age 3 to play with those kinds of toys belonging to an older sibling). To be sure of a toy's size, use a small parts tester (available in quantity from the Safe Kids Resource Catalog, or, anything that can fit within a paper-towel tube is small enough to be swallowed). Do not let small children play with anything that can fit into one of these cylinders.
  • Inspect toys to make sure they are in good repair. Do not let young children play with toys that have straps, cords, or strings longer than seven inches, due to the risk of strangulation.
  • Actively supervise children. Caregivers should actively supervise children playing with any toy that has small parts, moving parts, electrical or battery power, cords, wheels or any other potentially risky components. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach and paying undivided attention.
  • Even toys and gifts for babies need to be checked out. If you have an infant with rattles or pacifiers, make sure they're too big to fit in the child's mouth so they don't choke.
  • Practice proper storage. Teach children to put toys away after playing, to help prevent falls and unsupervised play, and make sure toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children. Toy chests should be equipped or retrofitted with safety hinges that prevent the lid from closing on a child who is leaning over the open chest; if a chest does not have safety hinges, remove the lid