Choking hazard awareness: Take a moment to check out gifts for children

  • When giving a toy as a gift this holiday season, remember to buy age appropriate items, read the warning labels and consider providing safety gear when needed. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • When giving a toy as a gift this holiday season, remember to buy age appropriate items, read the warning labels and consider providing safety gear when needed. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • When giving a toy as a gift this holiday season, remember to buy age appropriate items, read the warning labels and consider providing safety gear when needed. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/2/2019 4:15:44 PM

Christmas morning is an exciting time for children. It can also bring upon some nerve wracking moments for parents.

Watching the kiddos unwrap new toys is a joy and will likely lead to a day of playing and creation. But in the chaos of wrapping paper flying around, it can be hard to fully inspect every gift that was placed under the tree. Yet anyone who has young children knows just how important it is to inspect and examine each toy that finds its way under the tree.

It’s no coincident that December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, considering how many toys are given as presents for the holidays.

While Siobhan Benham, owner of Hearthside Family Health and a family nurse practitioner, hasn’t seen a ton of injuries when it comes to toys, she knows the dangers they present.

She once had a young girl come in to her office who had stuck a bead up her nose and had a family friend whose child swallowed a lithium button battery, which can cause severe injuries like burning of the esophagus in less than two hours and lead to permanent damage.

“That’s something that’s really scary because it can happen so quickly,” Benham said.

Choking is one of parents greatest fears for young children, which is why it is so important to keep a close eye on what is in each gift and could potentially lead to an emergency situation.

The good news is that toys are designed with age appropriate pieces, meaning you won’t find smaller pieces in ones created for children ages three and under. But that only matters if the person buying the gift is cognizant of what is fitting for a child. And having an older child in the house creates a whole different set of circumstance with smaller parts being the norm in toys geared toward an older audience.

“It can be hard to do, but make sure you’re doing a quick inventory of the smaller pieces if you have young children,” Benham said.

Benham said there are a few simple rules to follow when purchasing certain gifts. Bikes and scooters should be accompanied by a helmet and protective gear. If buying some sort of gun, whether it be Nerf or an airsoft gun, make sure to include eye and face protection. She also cautioned against something that means increased screen time. As a parent who limits the amount of time her boys spend in front of a screen, Benham said it’s good to check in with parents first before making a purchase.

“I think making sure you’re talking to the families of children you’re buying for is a good idea,” Benham said.

In addition to the concern that comes with swallowing small batteries, the same can be said for magnets. When multiple magnets are swallowed, they can connect inside the intestines and lead to serious conditions.

So when it comes to toys and gifts, it is critical to remember to consider the safety and age range of the toys.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the recommendation is to inspect all toys before purchasing. Be diligent about inspecting toys your child has received and check them for age, skill level, and developmental appropriateness before allowing them to be played with. It’s not that easy to do on Christmas morning, but the extra time to pause will mean a piece of mind when the hustle and bustle of the day sets in and kids tend to have a little more independence as food is being prepared and guests entertained.

Look for labels that assure toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.

Balloons are well documented to create dangerous suffocation situations with both the actual balloon and the cord.

Benham said she recently heard about a girl on National Public Radio who put a pair of Polly Pocket shoes up her nose and it led to an emergency department bill of close to $3,000.

While Benham understands that when something happens, parents tend to seek medical attention immediately, but with something up the nose like a bead or wheel, it’s best to call a primary care provider before making a trip to the emergency room, especially if the child is showing no effects from it.

But that is not the case if something is swallowed, like a battery or magnet.

“That’s not a wait and see if it comes out,” Benham said.

Benham said some of the warning signs that the swallowed item is causing internal issues is an abnormal sound in the chest known as stridor, or tightness/difficulty breathing.

“If you think they did swallow something, but seem okay, investigate immediately,” Benham said.

While parents should keep a close eye on children, the key to prevention is educating youngsters about dangers and best practices, Benham said.

“Understand at their level, they think it’s not going to happen to them,” she said.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, your source for Peterborough area news.


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

20 Grove St.
Peterborough, NH 03458
603-924-7172

 

© 2019 Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy