It’s mid-December and you’re full-swing in the holiday spirit… and who can blame you? This is many people’s favorite time of year, a magical season for kids and adults alike. But along with the gingerbread lattes, boughs of holly and gift exchanges are some serious safety concerns. Especially when it comes to children, there are some real risks with Christmas toy safety. In fact, roughly 10 percent of kids’ eye injuries that result in ER visits are caused by toys.
This is why December has been designated “Safe Toys & Celebrations Month.” So to support safe kids and help you fully enjoy the holidays, here’s how to protect vision and some things to keep in mind this month.
Gifts that Pose the Most Risks
There are a lot of toys that could be dangerous for young children, including balloons (a suffocation hazard), scooters or similar riding toys (which can result in broken boys or harmful falls) and toys with small parts (a choking danger).
But when it comes to protecting your little ones’ eyesight, there are particular types of toys to avoid. These include:
- Laser pointers. Any toy that emits a laser beam can seriously harm eyes, even permanently damaging the retina. Children often don’t understand the severity of this type of injury, and may not be careful about where they point such lasers, so should never have these toys without adult supervision.
- Shooting toys. Toys that project water, darts, pellets or other objects can be very hazardous. Even if the projectiles appear soft, they can cause real damage if shot with enough force toward the eye.
- Toys with pointed edges. Swords, wands, fishing poles and any other long toys with pointed edges (even pencils or pens!) pose real danger for young kids in particular. If used incorrectly or used in horseplay, these objects could lead to horrible eye injuries like a puncture or worse.
If you choose to get any toys along these lines for your children this holiday season, make sure they are age-appropriate and only used under active adult supervision. But better yet, consider giving other, safer toys in their place.
Activities to Enjoy with Proper Precautions
Toys are one part of the fun this type of year, but also keep in mind that certain celebratory actions can cause eye damage accidentally. One example of this is opening champagne bottles. Many people like to make a show of popping open a champagne bottle at a party or dinner gathering, but it’s not worth the risk. The projectile cork can seriously hurt the eyes of anyone it hits, and can travel further than you think.
Another example is roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Everyone loves s’mores, and it’s the perfect time of year to make them! But you must always exercise great caution around open fires when children are nearby, and the long pokers used for roasting marshmallows can cause real eye damage if they come into contact with the eye. So if you choose to get festive in this way, make sure you’re helping your child and engaging in the fun safely.
The best way to protect your own eyesight, and the eyesight of your children, year-round is by being aware. Take a look at every toy you purchase, and every activity you participate in, and think about whether it could cause an eye injury if something went awry. It doesn’t have to take long; a little intentionality and awareness this season can spare you a trip to the ER and keep your eyesight protected as you and your kids have all the fun you can.
Contact us if you’d like more tips for eye protection, or to schedule a consultation.