Tips on how toy safety can prevent accidents plus great resource for avoiding phishing scams: Internet ScamBusters #104
Today we have a consumer tips article for you on toy safety, plus a great resource that helps you know if you're on a 'spoofed' (fake) website so you can better detect phishing scams.
First a quick note: Thanks to everyone who sent us comments about how much they like the new 'Christmas Gifts Advice' blog. For those who haven't yet visited, in addition to advice on finding the right Christmas gifts, you'll also find Christmas trends, consumer tips, and humor. You can check it out now.
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Time to get started...
Toy safety is not something most of us think about too much -- until we hear of a toy safety related accident that might have been prevented.
And according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are about 150,000 of those every year -- many of which could have been prevented.
Every year, about 5000 new toys come to market, and by Christmas time, there could be in excess of 100,000 different kinds of toys for sale across the country.
Toy safety is important at any time of year, but at Christmas, it's even more so.
A US consumer group recently published its annual list of toys that pose threats to children, with the potential to smother, throttle, poison or deafen a child. You can check it out here:
Since 1970, toy safety has been legislated, and over 1500 toys banned from the consumer market.
In spite of this, individual toys may still be unsafe for various reasons. Some things to look out for include:
- Sharp edges and points, especially if a toy gets broken.
- Tiny parts that could be swallowed, or end up in ears, nose or eyes.
- Toys that make so much loud noise that they damage eardrums.
- Anything that can be propelled or create a projectile.
- Electric toys that can burn or shock a child if something goes wrong.
Here are eight tips to help you focus on toy safety in your home:
1. When you are buying toys, get into the habit of reading the labels. Many toys have age-appropriate recommendations. In addition, you may not want to give a small child a toy with a label that says, "Stuffing material may be toxic."
2. Look for name brands that are known to have quality construction and solid design principles. Plastic is usually the best choice for material, then wood, and finally metals.
3. If you are buying anything electrical, make sure it has the 'Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) seal on it, indicating that electrical parts have been tested and deemed safe.
4. Read the instructions yourself, and make sure the child understands how to play with, and care for, the toy. Talk in general terms with your children about toy safety -- not to alarm, but to inform.
5. Check your children's toybox on a regular basis for 'preventive medicine.' Throw away anything that's suspect!
6. Make sure the toy storage method is age appropriate and safe, too. For example, check shelving units from time to time to make sure they are sturdy. Make sure a toy box lid is lightweight and can be opened and closed easily, etc. Check to see if heavy toys are stacked on top of others.
7. Teach children to routinely put toys away appropriately so they won't be stepped on or tripped over. (Stressing the toy safety aspect may make it easier to gain their cooperation in this regard -- but don't hold your breath.) 😉
8. If you have a baby or toddler, remember that everything automatically goes into the mouth. Make sure the child isn't playing with anything with detachable parts, or pieces that are too small.
If you are buying toys for a child you don't know particularly well, here are a few general guidelines for age-appropriate toys:
Babies and Toddlers. Rattles; pounding, stacking or squeaking toys; floating tub toys, large blocks (preferably plastic); push-and-pull toys, cloth books.
8 months-3 years. Wagons, ride-on toys or tricycles; balls, outdoor 'sandbox' or pool toys; play furniture.
3-6 years. Small trucks, cars, planes, boats; simple construction toys; backyard gym or swing sets; dress-up outfits; art-related supplies like coloring books or sketch pads.
7-9 years. Books, action figures, puzzles.
Don't let toy safety become an issue in your home. Educate yourself and your children so that they can do what they're supposed to do with toys -- have fun!
After last week's Q&A on phishing, the question came up: how do you know if you're on a 'spoofed' (fake or fraudulent) website?
To answer this question, we created a page on SpoofStick. Check it out.
That's it for now. Have a great week.