Adventure isn’t just about going to new places. Adventure, and danger, is more often found in everyday activities, with both the familiar and unfamiliar objects kept at home. Here are the five most common problem toys for kids in 2016.

Hoverboards

These are trendy as toys can be in 2016. We have no idea how far the fad will go. Some people think it’s the future of local travel.

A rather disconcerting part about hoverboards is that they have a tendency to burst into flames. CPSC has recalled over half a million hoverboards with defective battery packs. The batteries have a habit of exploding, which has resulted in burned houses and apartments. Airlines have banned them and IKEA recalled several million units. Apparently, the Christmas rush last year forced manufacturers to hit the Chinese market for cheap Lithium-ion batteries. If the cells of the batteries or charging devices are defective, there becomes more capacity to overcharge the cells. That possibility exists even with good batteries but is greatly exacerbated by bad ones.

Check for models under recall lists and take back any unsafe items. Never leave units charging unsupervised. For that matter, an overlooked part of any battery charged device is leaving them unsupervised for longer than the length of time it takes to charge.

Realistic Guns

Two years ago, the shooting of Tamir Rice outraged the city of Cleveland and many more across the nation, but it can serve as an important lesson in modern society. Playing with guns can get you killed. That lesson hasn’t quite sunk in apparently. Earlier this year, two kids were playing with real guns when a concerned citizen stopped to let them know that they aren’t toys and can get a person shot by police.

This would figure to be even more of a pressing danger in neighborhoods where police are routinely patrolling and getting calls for shots fired. There is debate about all of this for sure, and many deaths have been unnecessary, but it’s hard for children to understand adult problems, much less debate about them just before being shot.

Regardless of any controversy, New York City has still had 63 fake weapons deaths in the last 22 years. And once you’re dead, there is no lawsuit that’s going to bring you back. Be safe, be smart.

Kiddie Pools

Kiddie pools in the backyard are riskier than you might think. Even with only a couple inches of water, a child can drown. In fact, over 10% of pool deaths are kids younger than five years old. It’s the leading cause of death for children under four-years-old and the second leading cause of death for kids under fifteen-years-old.

Drowning is not the only concern either. Untreated pools filled with tap water carry a high possibility of contamination. It is difficult to add the appropriate amount of chlorine to small amounts of water. Moreover, kiddie pools shared by the neighbors have even greater infection risks.

Of course, bigger pools present even more problems for kiddos. There are so many things that even parents do wrong, which not only puts everyone in danger but also sets a horrible example. This blog on pool safety is a start on the path to responsible summer fun.

Know to watch small children in pools and be cognizant of symptoms that could be an illness in days following such shared play spaces. Make sure pools are hard to access with fencing to minimize unsupervised access. Very significantly, make sure to use some kind of sensor if a pool is being covered. If a kid gets trapped under a pool cover, it is almost certain death.

Backyard Trampolines

Trampolines, whether in a gym or at home, are one of the biggest risks for kids. The younger the kid the bigger the danger. Padding and adult supervision don’t stop accidents from happening, either.  In fact, they may only provide a false sense of security and result in even more dangerous activity. And any trampoline activity is already dangerous. Even a fall of a couple of inches can result in a trip to the ER.

This isn’t exaggerating problems. Tens of thousands of children are seriously hurt on trampolines every year or about a million in the last decade!

Whether on a trampoline, in a bouncy house, or other risky structure, kids need a lot of assistance and advice starting with the fact that only one person should be jumping at a time. An Indiana TV station ran an in-depth report that includes lots of eye-opening statistics and a long list of ways parents can help make jumping activities more safe. NPR also has a new report that covers the rise in popularity of trampoline parks and associated risks. Parks take some precautionary steps and have fewer accidents as a result. Most ER visits from trampolines happen at home. Though no activity for kids is risk-free, the use of at-home trampolines is pretty unanimously derided by doctors.

Bicycles

The most innocuous of all children’s toys also carries the biggest potential risk. Generally speaking, kids shouldn’t be playing anywhere near moving traffic. Every day, I witness kids (and adults) riding bicycles very irresponsibly. This underscores a huge need for training.

The most significant problem that I often see parents teaching their kids to do is riding opposite traffic. This is extremely dangerous because an oncoming car has a much smaller window of time to see the bicyclist. Plus, the bicycle coming at the vehicle will result in a more significant crash than a bicycle going away from a vehicle. Also, riding the wrong way leaves the bicyclists’ vulnerable at intersections where drivers are not expecting a bicycle coming from the opposite way.  

Though it might be counterintuitive to teach someone to ride a bicycle further into a lane of traffic than further toward the edge of the road, think again. For one, there are many more hazards and the roadside is rough, so the chances a bicyclist will lose control and then crash into a moving car are increased. Also, being further left in the road helps cars at intersections see the bicyclist and also gives the rider options on avoiding one of the more common collisions.

These more nuanced aspects of riding come with experience, but kids also need to be taught basics. There should be no reason for not wearing a helmet or not having a light. Ride on less busy streets when possible, don’t wear headphones, signal turns and generally expect to not be seen. It is the bicyclist’s responsibility to avoid accidents. NHTSA has a wealth of resources on the topic of bicycle safety. Learn and teach kids as much as they will listen.

There is little a parent can do because kids will be kids, but it is imperative to be aware of as many risks as possible. By no means should anyone ever suggest that you should keep any of these toys off the lists of early Christmas presents? Go ahead, indulge the lads. Kids are gonna get their hands on whatever they want, however they can. Still, it does help to know what kind of dangerous situations to be smarter about.

As always, awareness is key.

Health & Fitness, News