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Outdoor Toy Safety Tips from the Experts

Dec 16, 2020

The holiday season is upon us, and when all is said and done the kids will be the owners of some pretty great new toys and exercise equipment. As we’re filling our carts it’s important to keep safety in mind before making a purchase. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, a great time to spread awareness and create an enjoyable and safe gifting experience.

Common orthopaedic injuries caused by toys include fractures, strains and sprains, concussions and dislocations. While every toy has the potential to result in an accidental wound, outdoor items ­- such as trampolines, scooters and bicycles – are causing an increase in injuries. These toys can be dangerous if used improperly or by a child who is too young.

While trampolines are an enjoyable gift that many children love, they are a leading cause of sprains, fractures, concussions and serious neck or spinal cord injuries. Orthopaedic surgeon Anne Colton, M.D., from Premier’s Broomall office, notes, “Typically, these injuries are caused when there are multiple children jumping at the same time, young children bouncing with older kids, or adolescents performing high-risk stunts (e.g., flips and somersaults).” To prevent injuries, Dr. Colton recommends that only one child jumps at a time, children under six years old do not use a trampoline, and adults provide supervision at all times. Additionally, it’s critical to keep up with a trampoline’s maintenance by checking the springs, bars, netting and landing surface, to help guarantee that the area is safe.

Items such as scooters and bicycles can lead to broken bones and head injuries from a fall. When gifting this type of toy, make sure it is age-appropriate to the child, and if so, the child has good coordination. Be sure to purchase protective gear as well. Shawn Potteiger, D.O., a sports medicine physician from Premier’s Collegeville, Exton and Malvern offices, states, “Wearing proper equipment, such as helmets, pads and wrist guards, will aid in preventing possible injuries that can occur from moving or stationary motor vehicles, pedestrians, potholes, or other hazards.”

Parents should make sure a scooter or bike is assembled correctly before the child uses it. Dr. Potteiger recommends that “bicycles should be adjusted so that there are 1-3 inches between the child and top tube of the bike. The seat height allows a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended, and ensures the seat and handlebars are level.” Parents can teach their children how to properly use and maintain a scooter or bicycle. When riding, adult supervision is necessary to make sure that the area is safe, and the child is not going too fast or performing stunts. Adolescents should remember “see and be seen” whenever using a scooter or bicycle on a roadway by wearing bright or fluorescent colors and avoiding riding at night. In addition, it’s important that adolescents wear proper footwear, like sneakers, when using scooters and bicycles. Most importantly, toys should be age-appropriate, and children should demonstrate proper coordination using them.

To prevent any emergency visits this season, be sure to do your homework before purchasing, read all warning labels, and learn how to properly use the toy first before teaching your children. From our Premier family to yours, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.