By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

With December in full swing, stores are filled with shoppers scouring the shelves for the perfect gifts for the bright-eyed little darlings in their lives. Prevent Blindness America is encouraging parents and other consumers with children on their Christmas lists to carefully ensure that all gift choices are safe for the little hands which will eagerly be unwrapping them come Christmas morning.

“The holidays can get hectic, but we need to be diligent when purchasing gifts, especially for children, making sure they are safe and fit each individual child’s needs,” stated Prevent Blindness CEO and President Debbie Goss. “By taking a few precautions, we can spend time with our family and friends and not in the emergency room!”

Prevent Blindness America designated the month of December as Safe Toys and Gifts Month in 2013, a decision spurred by the fact that “each year, thousands of children age 14 and younger suffered serious eye injuries, even blindness, from toys,” according to information provided on

The organization encourages parents to purchase only toys which are appropriate for their child’s age, instruct the child on how to safely use all toys they are given and supervise the child at all times while he or she is playing.

Whenever possible, parents are urged to choose toys bearing the letters ‘ASTM.’ When these letters are present, it is a sign that the product is fully in accordance with the national safety standards put in place by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

All instructions on the toy’s packaging, as well as any warning labels which may be present, should be read thoroughly by the parent before the toy is given to the child.

The parent should determine whether the toy is, indeed, a good choice for their child based on age and ability. For toys that contain small parts, a good rule of thumb to determine age appropriateness for children under the age of three is to see if the parts will fit into a toilet paper roll. In the event that the smallest parts of the toy do fit, it should not be considered as a suitable gift.

Toys which are easily broken and may produce dangerous shards should be avoided. Toys containing cords or long strings, as well as items which are composed of parts that fly or shoot off, should be avoided.

When giving gifts such as basketballs, footballs, bicycles, or skateboards, parents are encouraged to remember to purchase appropriate protective gear – such as a helmet or kneepads – as accompanying gifts.

According to information provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated total of 174,100 toy-related injuries were treated among children below the age of 15 in emergency departments throughout the nation in 2016. Seven more toy-related injuries proved fatal. Non-motorized scooters and other riding toys were to blame for the majority of the reported injuries – many of which involved bruises and cuts to the face and head – and roughly half of the deaths. All of the reported deaths were attributed to motor vehicle involvement.

For more information on safe toys, please visit

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at