CLEVELAND CLINIC - Thousands of toy-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms nationwide each year. So, when you're out last-minute shopping for the perfect gift to tuck under the tree, think safety first.
The choices of toys are endless, but they are not all created equal when it comes to safety, according to Dr. Purva Grover of Cleveland Clinic Children's.
"The most important thing is to make sure they are age appropriate," says Dr. Grover.
Many toys have age recommendations listed right on the box. But generally, for kids younger than three, it's best to avoid anything with small parts that could pose a choking risk.
It's also a good idea to keep younger siblings in mind.
"We need to be very, very cognizant of who else is in the house. There might be an eight-year-old that you're buying for, but they might have a three-year-old toddler around them," adds Dr. Grover.
Dr. Grover also says items that contain button batteries or magnetic parts should be avoided for small children. These small, shiny items are attractive to kids, and very dangerous if swallowed.
"They can attract the intestines together and cause serious obstructions. That's considered a medical and surgical emergency and these kids usually end up going to the OR," warns Dr. Glover.
For kids under eight, avoid toys that have strings or straps longer than seven inches because they may be a strangulation danger. It's also smart to steer clear of items with sharp points and edges.
If Santa is bringing a bike, skateboard, scooter or roller blades, including a helmet is a must. Wrist guards are also a good idea for those receiving roller blades or skateboards, as doctors say they will prevent six out of seven wrist fractures.