FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: WHAT'S THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT? SAFETY!

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December 19, 2013 (San Diego) – We’re all kids at heart, but one of the first questions you should ask is, “What is the toy appropriate age?” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. It's essential to adhere to the age guidelines indicated on toy packaging, because even a toy for a 3-year-old could have parts too small for a 2-year-old to handle properly.

Are there any small, loose parts that your child can swallow? If you're not sure, consider the toilet paper tube test: anything that can pass through the tube is too small to be given to a child under 3 years old. Marbles, coins and balls are common culprits.

Could any part of the toy be bitten off and swallowed? Does the toy have a string, ribbon, straps or cord longer than 7 inches? Is your toy non-toxic? Look for points, edges or breakable parts that could be sharp and avoid those toys for kids under eight. If you're considering a ride-on, is it sturdy and stable, and does the recipient have all the proper safety equipment (helmet, kneepads, etc.) required to use it? Does the toy include magnets? Powerful magnets can be fatal is swallowed by children.

Could the toy be a fire hazard? Fabric toys should be labeled as flame retardant or flame resistant. And electrical toys with batteries or electric plugs pose a burn hazard so they should be avoided for kids under eight. Does the toy include any throwing or shooting projectiles? It's best to avoid these toys because they can cause injuries, especially to the eyes.

Want more toy safety tips? Visit ToyInfo.org.

Happy Holidays!

Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.