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Think toy safety this Christmas season

In just a few days, children will eagerly be opening new toys and other items that have been left by Santa Claus.

And, while Christmas morning can be an exciting time, we remind parents and other adults that not all toys and gifts are safe for all children in all circumstances.

Late in November, the organization World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc. issued its annual listing of the worst toys of the year. Included are items that contain classic toy dangers, the Boston-based group explained. Warning signs to watch for include small parts, strings, projectiles, toxic substances, rigid materials and inaccurate warnings and labels.

Numbers show it’s critical that all of these concerns be taken into account because, as the group said, there are an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries to children each year. and a child is brought to the emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury.

According to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, more than 3 billion toys are sold in the United States each year. Its guidelines for purchases include buying age-appropriate toys, reading instructions and warnings, avoiding toys with sharp and rigid points, avoiding toys with small parts that can create a choking hazard and securing batteries firmly.

A great deal of the consumer protection advice we receive during the holidays amounts to common sense –and that needs to apply to other gifts, as well.

Many youngsters, for instance, will receive electronic devices, often Internet-capable, for Christmas. That may make them susceptible to schemes — some involving money, others creating real danger to the children.

Experts advise steps such as monitoring youngsters’ Internet use, establishing and enforcing rules, warning children not to download anything and ensuring privacy settings for services such as social media are appropriate.

It is all good advice, coming as it does during a time when adults are so eager to make children on our shopping lists happy that we might forget the need to keep them safe from scammers and predators, as well as other dangers that often can present themselves. Following the recommendations will help to make the holiday safer for all involved.

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