The group is offering tips for buying safe toys.

(Press Release) Prevent Blindness has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness month and is offering tips for making safe purchases.

In the U.S., emergency rooms treated 251,800 toy-related injuries, according to a report issued last year from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. And 44 percent of the injuries were to the head and face area, the area of the body with the most injuries. An estimated 84,400 of all toy-related injuries, or 34 percent, happened to children younger than 5 years of age. In addition, a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, “Epidemiology of Sports-Related Eye Injuries in the United States,” found that basketball, baseball and air guns were the most common causes of injury, accounting for almost half of all primary sports-related eye injuries.

“When giving the gift of sports equipment, Prevent Blindness strongly urges also providing sports eye protection,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “An eyecare professional can provide guidance for the best protection for each sport and athlete.”

Prevent Blindness offers these additional tips:

Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.

Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child's ability and age.

Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home that may have access to the toy.

Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.

Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.

Look for the letters "ASTM." This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.

Don't purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck.

Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately.

Magnets, like those found in magnetic building sets and other toys, can be extremely harmful if swallowed. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a child may have swallowed a magnet.

KidsHealth.org recommends that bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and inline skates should never be used without helmets that meet current safety standards and other recommended safety gear, like hand, wrist and shin guards.

Read all warnings and instructions on the box.

Always supervise children and demonstrate to them how to use their toys safely.

For more information on safe toys and gifts for children, visit preventblindness.org/safe-toy-checklist. For more information on sports eye protection and safety, visit www.preventblindness.org/sports-eye-safety.

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