Christmas Gifts: Keeping Kids Safe

Jay Stillman

3 min read

Looking for great gifts for kids, family and friends? Stillman and Friedland are here to help you with our top tips for this holiday shopping season. If you are a challenged shopper, there are loads of sites out there online with oodles of great gift ideas. Don’t forget to do your homework on “smart gadgets” (see info box below).

What’s our advice? Play it safe whether you are shopping for kids or adults.

  • If you are buying gifts for kid, choose products that are safety-rated for the child’s age.
  • All toys should be clearly marked with a safety rating, especially if you are buying a toy for a child under age three. These safety ratings generally go with age-appropriate use, meaning that this is a toy geared for that age range. For more info on specific products, check out the consumer safety information on the US PIRG Education Fund website.

If you are buying for small children with tired, frazzled parents, steer clear of electronic gizmos that beep and ping and chatter annoyingly. Battery components can be unsafe, especially if the child is handy and likes to chew on things.

Another tip: If there are older and younger siblings, choose items for older kids that are also safe for the younger siblings.
That doesn’t mean that you buy a 3-year-old toy for the 6-year-old, it just means that you avoid giving items that could be unsafe for the younger child. Wait until the small one stops chewing on things that could be choking hazards before you buy that fancy Lego set for the older child.

Every year thousands of kids have toy-related injuries. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s latest statistical report, in 2017 there were 184,000 injuries among kids under age 15. The same CPSC report estimates that 59,000 kids required emergency room treatment.

If you are looking for detailed information on toy safety and regulations, you can find it on the CPSC website in both English and Español.

It is great that our Federal regulations keep a lot of really unsafe items off our store shelves, but as in many cases of injury, the problem lies mostly with human error, not product specs. Of the toy-related fatalities, over half were bicycle injuries that involved cars.

  • We hope it is obvious that if you are giving a bike or a scooter, it comes with a correctly-fitting helmet and pads, too.

Most often, lack of supervision is a contributing cause to the injury. We win product liability cases, but as always, family safety is better than having your attorney helping you to pay for recovery. Toys are more fun when they are something parents and kids share.

Giving gifts for grown-ups too? From a consumer point of view, if you are buying electronics, pay a bit extra for a known brand. That means your gift recipient will have warranty and liability coverage you probably cannot get with a knock-off brand. If you receive a knock-off item as a gift, it may work just fine. Just be sure to make sure that there are no issues with overheating plugs and cords. You can subscribe to consumer safety alerts here in either English or Spanish.

The thoughtful gift: The late Barbara Bush, whose husband President George H.W. Bush passed away this week, was a strong advocate of literacy and reading to children. Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton has a fabulous charity that gives away books to needy kids. Consider a donation in this holiday season, and give books to those you love. Giving a book to a small child is also the gift of the time invested in reading to the child. For an older child, books are a window into the world that allows them to explore with depth and nuance. They are also a chance to open discussions with their parents at a new level. As we all know, the holiday season is about time with people, not things accumulated.

Wishing you all the best in this joyful season,

Because we care…