Last year, at least 11 children died from toy-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The majority of those deaths were small children who choked on balls, balloons and small toys, said Ken Giles, with the CPSC.
And even though many parents believe if a toy is sold, it must be safe, experts say parents still must be diligent about playthings that could injure their children. While there are usually about 10 to 20 deaths caused by toys each year, there are more than 100,000 toy-caused injuries each year.
"We see children injured by toys throughout the year, but at Christmas, there's an even higher incidence," said Dr. David Goo, an emergency room physician at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
The most common injuries are caused by choking or strangulation, but the scooter phase of the early 2000s spiked injury numbers, CPSC statistics show.
"We see a lot of injuries from falls from scooters, bikes and anything with wheels," Goo said.
Goo said parents should pay attention to safety warnings, never give toys with small parts to children under 4 and discard plastic bags and ribbons quickly.
"It's especially tricky when older children live with younger children, because the older children often want toys that would be dangerous to young kids," Goo said. "You just have to watch the younger kids very carefully and talk to your older kids about not giving them small parts."
Megan Fitzgerald of the Georgia Public Interest Research Group, which recently released a list of dangerous toys, said parents can use a toilet paper roll as a guideline.
"If something fits in the tube, don't give it to your young child," Fitzgerald said.
The CPSC recalls about 300 products a year, Giles said, and about a third are toys and children's products. The CPSC has to receive complaints on a toy before it can launch an investigation. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Giles said the agency recalled about 90 toys and children's items.
For more information on toy safety, check out www.toysafety.net. To look at recalled products, go to www.recalls.gov. To report a dangerous toy, call 1-800-638-2772 or go to www.cpsc.gov.
Copyright 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution