Tips & Helpful Hints
- Safe Toy Shopping Tips
- Home Safety Tips
- Sleep Safety Tips
- Furniture Tip-Over
- Safe Play Tips For Children With Special Needs
- Internet Safety Tips
It’s important to make sure that the toys you’re buying for the kids in your life will not only delight and entertain, but also be safe for them to use. These tips, developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offer guidance – from buying to playing and maintaining to storing toys – to keep your kids safe and happy.
When buying toys
- Choose toys with care. Keep in mind the child’s age, interests and skill level.
- Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.
- Make sure that all directions or instructions are clear—to you and, when appropriate, to your child.
- Plastic wrappings on toys should be discarded at once before they become hazardous to young children.
- Be a label reader. Look for and heed age recommendations, such as “Not recommended for children under three.”
- Toys with small parts are not intended for children under three. This includes removable small eyes and noses on stuffed toys and dolls, and small, removable squeakers on squeeze toys.
- New toys intended for children under eight years of age should be free of sharp glass and metal edges. With use, however, older toys may break, exposing cutting edges.
- Look for other safety labels including: “Flame retardant/Flame resistant” on fabric products and “Washable/hygienic materials” on stuffed toys and dolls.
When maintaining toys
- Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. A damaged or dangerous toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.
- Teach older children to help keep their toys away from younger brothers and sisters.
- Edges on wooden toys that might have become sharp or surfaces covered with splinters should be sanded smooth.
- Examine all outdoor toys regularly for rust or weak parts that could become hazardous.
When storing toys
- Teach children to put their toys safely away on shelves or in a toy chest after playing to prevent trips and falls.
- Toy boxes, too, should be checked for safety. Use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch or squeeze.
- See that toys used outdoors are stored after play—rain or dew can rust or damage a variety of toys and toy parts creating hazards.
From the day you bring your baby home from the hospital until your little ones are moving all about, you want your home to be a safe place for them to explore, play and sleep. The tips below will help you to keep not only your kids, but your whole family, safe when you’re at home.
- Install working smoke detectors on each floor and in the basement.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors with audible alarms near sleeping areas.
- Check furnaces and fireplace flues with each seasonal change.
- Place fire extinguishers in all areas with open flames.
- Set the temperature of your hot water heater at 120 degrees or lower. Check with your management if you have no control.
- When cooking, keep handles on cookware turned inward.
- If you use a space heater, make sure it is unobstructed and not used in the bedroom or nursery.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Many plants are toxic. Check with local poison control for a list.
- Install child-proof latches on cabinets.
- Equip windows with stops to maintain small openings.
- No window opening should be wider than four inches.
- Make sure all rugs are slip proof.
- Do not leave small children unattended in a tub or near any body of water.
- Make sure someone in your home knows CPR.
- Choose toy chests carefully. Heavy lids can fall and injure or trap a child.
- Keep hair driers, curling irons and other electric appliances away from sinks, bathtubs and toilets.
- Use covers for electrical plugs less than three feet from the floor.
- Keep curling irons out of reach of small children.
- Keep power tools, yard tools and lawn mowers out of the reach of small children.
- Automatic garage doors should have a mechanism to automatically re-open when striking an obstruction.
- Do not use latex balloons around small children.
Reports by the Center for Disease Control show the leading causes of house fires are cooking, heating equipment and electrical problems. More than 60 percent of the reported home fires occur in homes without smoke alarms or with non-working smoke alarms. Fifty percent of fatal injuries caused by house fires are to preschool children and adults over 65.
- Check furnace and fireplace flues with each seasonal change. Clean chimneys at least once a year.
- Install working smoke detectors on each floor, outside all bedrooms and in the basement. Test smoke detectors frequently. Change the batteries every six months with the change in daylight savings time.
- Place fire extinguishers in all areas with open flames such as the kitchen and near the fireplace, as well as the basement and garage. Learn to operate them.
- Know the dangers of space heaters. They need to be unobstructed and should not be in a bedroom or nursery.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Teach children what to do in case of a fire; Stop, drop and roll if clothes are on fire. Have an escape plan, with two different routes, and rehearse with your children.
One of the most important decisions you will make as a new parent is where and how you place your baby to sleep. If you follow these safe sleep rules, you will help protect your baby from SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) due to accidental suffocation or injury during sleep.
- Always place your baby to sleep on her back. Side and tummy positions are not safe.
- Use a crib that meets current safety standards. The mattress should be firm and fit snuggly in the crib. Cover the mattress with only a tight-fitting crib sheet. Portable cribs and play yard style cribs are also good choices.
- Cribs should have bars no more than 2-3/8 inches apart so that children cannot entrap their heads.
- Keep cribs and beds of small children away from windows.
- Do not put anything soft, loose or fluffy in your baby's sleep space. This includes pillows, blankets, comforters, bumper pads, stuffed animals or toys and other soft items.
- Use a wearable blanket or other type of sleeper instead of blankets to keep your baby warm and safe.
- Place your baby's separate, safe sleep space near your bed to help you protect her and make breastfeeding easier. This is called room sharing. Falling asleep with your baby in bed or on a couch or armchair is dangerous.
- Never place your baby to sleep on top of any soft surface. This includes adult beds, sofas, chairs, waterbeds, pillows, cushions, comforters and sheepskins.
- Make sure your baby doesn't get too warm during sleep. Use light sleep clothing and keep room temperature at what would be comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult.
- Offer your baby a pacifier every time you place her down to sleep. If you are breastfeeding, wait until nursing is well established before using a pacifier (usually around 1 month).
- Educate everyone who cares for your baby about these safe sleep rules!
Each year, on average more than 22,000 children ages 8 years old and younger, are treated for injuries related to household furniture instability or tip overs. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safety tips to help prevent tip-over accidents:
- Anchor all furniture to the wall or floor, including low furniture.
- Use a wall mount to hang your TV if possible.
- Keep remote controls and other attractive items off the TV top and stand so kids won't be tempted to grab for them and risk knocking over the TV.
- Keep TV and cable cords out of reach of children.
- Make sure free-standing ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
- Anchor washers, dryers, dishwashers and all other appliances.
- Always supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed.
Taking a few moments now to anchor and secure TVs, furniture and appliances can save your child from a tip-over tragedy. Be sure your child's grandparents and care givers follow these tips in their homes, too.
Through the magic of play, all children can experience victories, imagine new worlds and share the joy of learning. But, accidents can happen and rates of accidental injury are higher among children with special needs. This includes children with physical and psychological disabilities, and is especially true for children with cognitive, emotional and social limitations.
While basic safety rules apply to all children, regardless of ability, the delivery of the message should be tailored to ensure a differently-abled child truly understands and internalizes how to play safely. To make sure playtime is a positive, memorable learning experience for your child, following is a list of tips to help minimize playtime risks among children with special needs:
- Never Leave a Child Unsupervised: It is especially critical that a child with special needs is properly supervised by an adult or trusted caregiver at all times.
- Read Labels for Ability: Check toy packages for age grading, but choose toys that correspond with a child’s learning level rather than merely matching a toy with his/her actual age. Toys that are misused or inappropriate for a particular child’s abilities can pose a risk of injury.
- Survey the Play Area: Designate a specific area of the home for regular playtime – one void of hazards, such as electric wires across the floor that a child could trip over, hanging cords that could cause strangulation and pools or windows that a child could fall in/through. Safety gates or other barriers can also be helpful in keeping children away from areas unfit for their age or abilities.
- Establish Concrete Rules: Before playtime begins, discuss basic guidelines about what areas are off limits (i.e. the street, the roof or the pool). Make the message clear by saying, “Never go past this line without Mommy” and “Yell, HELP! if you are hurt, lost or scared.”
- Use Visual Warnings: Post notes with phrases, such as, “Don’t Touch!” and “Off Limits!” on toys for older children, as well as power tools, the stove, the kitchen drawers or any other potential source of injury; doing so can help a developmentally challenged child distinguish between an appropriate toy and an object that may be dangerous.
- Review and Repeat: After setting playtime rules, create visual reminders to post somewhere in the house or play area to serve as a constant reminder to the child. Also, ensure a child grasps the message by prompting him/her with hypothetical situations, such as, “What do you do when a ball rolls into the street?” and “What could happen if you play near the pool?”
- Prepare for Off-Site Play Dates: When scheduling a play date out of the home, pack a First Aid kit for the guardian to carry and a Child ID package to put in the child’s pocket or backpack, inclusive of the child and parent/guardian’s name, emergency contact information and instructions (i.e. allergies, illnesses/disabilities and medicinal protocol).
- Safe Storage: Teach children to put toys away so they do not pose a tripping hazard. Store an older child’s toys in a separate storage bin and regularly check for toys that may become worn, damaged, or have missing parts.
- Avoid Trigger Toys: For children who are prone to seizures, it’s best to avoid spinning or flashing toys. Opt for toys that have volume control for children who are adversely affected by loud noises. And, make sure children have the postural stability to utilize ride-on vehicles and wagons.
At Toys“R”Us, Inc. the safety of children has been, and continues to be, our highest priority. We know that raising kids in the digital age presents challenges parents couldn’t even imagine 10 years ago. That’s why we have teamed up with Dr. Parry Aftab, Executive Director of WiredSafety.org, to create this list of important Internet safety tips to help you understand the risks kids face while online and to help provide a safe web environment for your net-savvy children.
From ensuring that you speak to your kids about safe online practices to restricting the websites that your children can visit, there are many ways to help keep kids safe while they’re surfing the web.
- Get help! Ask your child’s school officials, other parents or older teens for pointers. Even web-savvy parents can’t keep up with everything these days. Technology is always changing, so stay involved and informed.
- Ask questions! Don’t hesitate to ask your kids where they go, what they do and what they enjoy online. Ask about their online friends, just as you would inquire about their offline pals or playmates. Teens polled by WiredSafety.org said they didn’t discuss their online behavior because their parents never asked.
- Explore the Internet together. Have your children show you their favorite websites, and even play games with them online. You can have fun while making sure they’re practicing smart online behavior. Remember, families that surf together are safer together!
- Talk with your kids about online risks and the steps they can take to protect themselves. Help them identify ways to stay safe and remind them that you will be there if they need help.
- Passwords are the root of most cyber trouble. Remind kids not to share their passwords with anyone, even their best friends, and never to save their passwords on the computer where they can be easily accessed. According to WiredSafety.org, more than 85% of elementary students said they had shared their passwords with at least one friend. Discuss the importance of using a password that is easy to remember but hard for others to guess.
- Set your rules! There is no one-size-fits-all. Find rules that work for your family, including determining how much time kids can spend online, when kids can go online and what they should do while online. For more ideas ask other families what they are doing with their kids to encourage safe Internet practices in their homes.
- Check out the latest cyber safety tools. Parental controls and kid-safe browsers and closed networks keep getting better and better. WiredSafety.org recommends using one of these tools with all children ages 10 and under.
- Your screen name shouldn’t include personal information, like your real name, age, birthday, town, school or hobby.
- Don’t share or post any information online you don’t want your parents, your principal, a stranger or the police to read.
- A picture is worth a thousand words, and yours might have more information in it than you want to share. Check your pictures as carefully as other personal information before sharing them online. Always think before you post.
- Make sure you use available privacy settings on all profiles, photo- and video-sharing pages.
- Pick a password that is easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess.
- Always make sure the website you’re using is appropriate for kids your age. If you’re not certain, have an older sibling or a parent check out the site first.
- Get help if anything or anyone upsets you or hurts your feelings online. Talk to your parents or another adult you trust and let them know when you need help. It’s not your fault when other people do bad things online, so don’t worry about getting into trouble.
- What you post and share online stays online forever! Once you click “send” you lose control. Remember: “Think before you click.”
- Be honest. Don’t lie about your age online to use websites that are intended for teens and adults. If the site finds out, you’ll lose privileges to that site. There are lots of fun sites for kids your age.
- Avoid talking to people online who you don’t know offline without your parent’s permission. The people you meet online are not the same as your real friends. Never agree to meet them without your parents or another trusted adult present. You never know who they really are.
- Don’t let your friends do things online that put you at risk and remind them to check with you before posting any picture of you online. You should do the same before posting photos of them.
- Offer to help your siblings, cousins and friends stay safe online. Share with them the Internet safety tips you have learned.
- Cyberbullying is when people use technology as a weapon to hurt other young people. They can steal and misuse passwords, spread rumors or pose as others online.
- Help educate your children on proper online behavior. The more your children know about technology and online etiquette and the more they treat others with respect online and off, the less likely they are to be victimized by a cyberbully.
- To prevent cyberbullying, WiredSafety.org suggests teaching your children their “Internet Golden Rule” – never do anything online that you wouldn’t do offline.
- Most cyberbullying is done anonymously and is conducted by someone the child or teen knows. Teach kids to “Stop! Block! and Tell!” (Stop, don’t respond or engage the cyberbully. Block the person or message. And, tell a trusted adult.)
- When something upsets them online, kids should “TAKE 5!” Teach kids to walk away from the computer or put down the device or cell phone they are using and do something else they enjoy to help them calm down and regain perspective.
- Be supportive if your child tells you they are a victim of cyberbullying. Only 5% of teens surveyed by WiredSafety.org said they would tell their parents if they experienced cyberbullying. Acknowledge your child’s courage and promise to help them.
- Get help if your child is being cyberbullied. Visit StopCyberbullying.org for more information and WiredSafety.org for one-on-one assistance.
Social networking sites are increasingly popular among tweens and teens. According to WiredSafety.org, more than 93 percent of teens have a profile on Facebook.
- Talk to your kids about social media. Ask if they have a page or profile on one of these sites and if you may see it. Also discuss with them why they want to be a member of these social networks and why they like it. The majority of kids just use these sites to communicate with their friends.
- Remember your kids can have social networking profiles and still be safe. Talk with them about using privacy settings and make sure they understand all of their privacy options.
- Visit WiredSafety.org for a tutorial on how to make the most of the privacy settings available on Facebook.
These tips were adapted from and used with the permission of WiredSafety.org and StopCyberbullying.org.