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Experts: When it comes to toy safety, age awareness is key

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One child is treated in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury, according to a consumer product safety group.

Working with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we want you to be empowered to make sure the toys you’re buying this holiday season are safe.

Joan Lawrence, senior vice president of safety affairs for The Toy Association, says age awareness is the biggest thing shoppers need to pay attention to.

"Older kids' toys will have small parts. That's really important to keep those away from those younger children," she says.

Lisa DeLuca, a mother of two sets of twins, has two very different ages she's looking for when it comes to holiday shopping. The boys are 5 years old and the girls are 2.

"The boys are a little older so they're into the smaller pieces, so they like Legos and that's tougher for the girls, because they'll pick up pieces and put them toward their mouth," DeLuca says.

Experts say an easy way to see if a toy is safe is to use a toilet paper roll. If the part fits into the roll it is too small for kids ages 3 and younger. Lawrence says you can still get the products - just keep them away from the younger kids.

Also, the label on each toy is marked to show what age group may use it.

The U.S. has strict safety standards that every toy must meet, from its physical parts to its chemical makeup. But consumers should always inspect the toys themselves to look for defects or poor design.

And, if you're ordering online, you also want to be careful where you're ordering from.

"We always recommend to shop with a retailer that you know and trust," says Lawrence. "You want to go with someone you know will be around if there's an issue."

Parents should also read online reviews, look for the age grade and safety guidelines - and pay attention to recalls, so if there is an issue, you can catch it quickly.

DeLuca says recalls mean that the toy manufacturer is responsible.

"You know they're doing their job - that you're going to be safe and your kids will be safe," she says. "So I actually appreciate it, and a recall is just a way to say it could happen to you, but hopefully it doesn't up to that point."

If you would like to check on toy recalls before you shop, go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website or The Toy Association's website at www.playsafe.org.


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