Safe toys mean safe play |

Safe toys mean safe play

There was a time when the Red Ryder BB gun was the stuff of legend for little boys, and perhaps a few girls ” a hoped-for toy at Christmas.

These days, with parents more safety-conscious about the toys their children play with, BB guns may no longer be the gift of choice from Santa.

December is Prevent Blindness America’s Safe Toys and Gifts Month and parents are urged to carefully consider buying thoughtfully this Christmas.

According to its Web site (, in 2003, 1,293 children under the age of 14 were injured by BB guns. Another 325 were injured by toy weapons and 110 by sling shots and sling-propelled toys.

Not to sound like the Grinch, however, the organization recommends parents buy toys that are appropriate for a child’s age.

Glenwood Springs pediatrician David Brooks agrees.

“Toys certainly can be great fun,” he said. But they can also be dangerous.

Brooks, who practices with wife, Dr. Ellen Brooks, at Pediatric Partners in Glenwood Springs, said he’s seen his share of toy-related injuries.

“I had a kid who was shot with a BB gun through the cheek. The bullet went into the brain and cut off the blood supply, and he lost half his brain,” he said. “He was forever tragically impaired.”

Also associated with injuries to young children are bows and arrows, or any toy that throws a dart.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that arrows or darts have a soft protective tip or a blunt end and be made of flexible plastic, Brooks said.

Young children should never be allowed to play with adult arrows or darts.

Brooks said he treated a child who was injured with a lawn dart that was thrown up in the air and came down and struck him in the eye.

Simple rules apply, Brooks said, when choosing a toy.

Make sure you read the label for the appropriate age level for the toy. Many manufacturers include such labels on the outside of the packaging. A toy that is too advanced probably will be misused, and that increases the likelihood of injury.

Brooks also recommends parents avoid any toy that shoots objects in the air, because of a risk of eye injury. A toy that fits in a child’s mouth is a risk for choking, he said.

“Balloons are not a good choice. They’re a terrible choking hazard” for any child under 5 years old, he said. Under that age parents should supervise play with balloons.

According to Brooks, the most common injuries in children are caused by unsafe or misuse of toys such as throwing, jumping or taking them apart.

“Toys and playing are important, but parents need to realize that toys can be dangerous especially if they’re not properly supervised,” he said.

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