DANGEROUS TOYS Button batteries, walkers and other safety risks you must know.
Fun is one thing, safety is another. Find out how you can protect your kid from dangerous play.
It’s that time of the year when your kids look forward to unwrapping their favourite toys for Christmas.
While they deserve the joy that such playthings bring, it’s also timely to remember that toys can sometimes pose very real health hazards.
In fact, toy-related injuries account for more than 500 cases that the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s (KKH) department of emergency medicine sees each year, says a report in The Straits Times (ST).
Many of these injuries occur in children under ﬁve years old – of these, about half of the cases involve those aged one to three.
Dr Chong Shu-Ling, a physician with KKH, tells
ST: “Although the majority of these injuries are minor, some are serious and have led to surgery or hospitalisation.”
Here’s what you must know about common toy safety risks:
This is the biggest toy safety concern, Dr Kao Pao Tang, head and senior consultant at the children’s emergency department of National University Hospital (NUH) tells ST.
Toys sometimes come apart because of bad design or misuse. The result: small parts, beads, or Lego bricks end up in a child’s mouth or become lodged in her nostrils or ears.
In his ST interview, Dr Chong gave the example of a two-year-old boy who was left to play unsupervised, and had pulled out the button eyes of his rabbit soft toy.
He popped one button into his mouth but didn’t like how it tasted. He then accidentally inserted it into his nose, and had to be taken to the hospital.
It’s also important that parents look out for news on toy recalls. ST reports that in December last year, Toys ‘R’ Us Singapore issued a voluntary recall of Bruin Wiggle Ball toys – the rubber knobs and plastic backs could detach and pose a choking hazard to children.
And in Britain, several models of ﬁdget spinners were taken off the shelves when it was discovered that their small parts popped out easily.
BLEEDING OR BURNS
Enterprise Singapore has advised parents to ensure that ﬁdget spinners have tightly secured cases to prevent children from opening them, says ST’s report.
These toys are operated by button batteries and battery ﬂuid poses very serious risks. Swallowing the batteries causes not only choking, but internal bleeding and chemical burns as well.
It’s just as risky if your kid inserts a button battery up his nostril. Dr Kao tells ST: “In the worst case, we have seen the nasal septum totally perforated within half a day of the battery being inserted.”
He added that besides battery acid, the electric current is harmful as well. “Most modern toys are designed in such a way that it is not usually easy to remove the batteries, but failure of such design is not uncommon,” he points out.
Look out for wear and tear, which can cause the screws that secure the battery cover to come loose.
Did you know that a baby in a walker can reach a speed of 1m per second? This is too fast for you to catch up to if she gets near an open door, a staircase or a pot of boiling water, says the KK Women’s and Children's Hospital website.
Besides, being a safety hazard, such walkers don’t help your child’s motor development, either. Countries such as Canada have been banned these products, ST’s article adds.
Once your kid is older, always keep a close watch when she rides a skate scooter, tricycle or rideon toy, so she doesn’t accidentally slip and fall off it.
Keep ride-on toys away from stairs, swimming pools and other potentially dangerous areas, too.
Wielding a handheld lightsaber associated with the Star Wars movies may bring out the kid in you, but in the hands of a young child, it’s one of the most common potentially dangerous toys. The same applies to spinning tops that project laser beams.
Dr Janice Lam, from the NUH Eye Surgery Centre, tells ST: “When
Besides, being a safety hazard, such walkers don’t help your child’s motor development.