Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month — Because Ralphie’s mom was right
We’ve all laughed at the desperate schemes of Ralphie Parker. He’s the 9-year-old narrator of the movie “A Christmas Story,” which follows his desperate attempts to convince his parents, his teachers and even Santa Claus that what he really wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun with the compass in the stock.
December is Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

Well, we all know how well that turned out.


“A Christmas Story” reminds us that we need to take extra care around the holidays to make sure the toys and gifts our children receive are safe and age-appropriate. It’s why Prevent Blindness America has declared December “Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month.”


Consider the risks presented by the wrong toy. A survey by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that each year toy-related mishaps injure more than 1/4 million children under the age of 15. Almost 100,000 of these accidents occurred in infants and toddlers under 5 years of age. Another study found that over the course of one year toy makers around the world recalled more than 19 million toys because of safety concerns.


Holiday Child Safety — Everyone’s Job


Every parent, relative and gift-giver has a role to play in making the holidays safe for children of all ages. Here are some practical tips:


Look at every toy before you buy it. Is the toy durable? Can it stand the wear and tear of everyday use without breaking, cracking or coming apart? Does it shoot objects or have sharp edges? Toys that fail these tests should be put back on the rack.


Should an infant or toddler play with this? Face it; infants and toddlers will stuff anything in their mouths. Read and follow all product-use guidelines about potential choking or other hazards. Young children should never have access to toys with small parts. A good rule of thumb? If all or part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, it’s not for children under age 3.


Is the toy age-appropriate? A toy that’s fine for a 12-year-old such as an aluminum baseball bat can be a real hazard in the hands of a kindergartener. Check the age recommendations on every toy you buy.


Has the toy been inspected? Standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) are used by many toy makers to assure product safety. Look for the ASTM mark on product packaging and promotional material.


What about crayons and markers? Don’t forget that markers sold for office use may contain irritating chemicals or could be easy for little fingers to open. Use crayons and markers that are clearly labeled “nontoxic.”


Does the toy need other safety equipment for proper use? Check to see if the toy maker suggests the use of additional safety equipment such as helmets, safety glasses, face masks and elbow pads. There’s no excuse to send kids out to play without everything they need to be safe.


Is this toy really necessary? Toys and games that use small-button cell batteries, magnets, ropes, cords, heating elements and/or chemicals present risks to children of all ages. Ask yourself if your child really needs toys like these.


Don’t forget the cleanup. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, deflated or popped balloons are a leading cause of suffocation among children. Take the time to dispose of these and other potentially dangerous holiday remnants.


What about those age-inappropriate gifts? It happens every year. A friend or relative shows up at your door with a gift for which your child is clearly not ready. Although well intentioned, it really is up to everyone to encourage toy safety with age-appropriate and safe toys and gifts.


Aboutoptomap and Ultra-Widefield Retinal Imaging


Improving children’s eye care was a contributing factor in ultra-widefield (UWF™) imaging technology.

UWF imaging technology gives ocular health practitioners imagery and diagnostic information about the retinal periphery that can’t be provided by small-field imaging methods. During the winter or at any time of the year, when you have your annual eye exam, we recommend that you include optomap. To find a provider near you, visit


From all of us at Optos, best holiday season wishes to you and yours.