No one wants to take a trip to the emergency room over the holidays. Yet holidays actually pose an increased risk. ERs see an uptick in patients during the week between Christmas and New Year’s for many reasons, including increased travel, extreme weather, house fires, and household accidents.
Of patients treated for eye injury, the leading causes were scratches to the cornea and foreign bodies lodged in the eye.
Both are extremely painful and have the potential to cause vision loss.
Even without the holiday bump in accidents, the statistics are ones you don’t want to be part of. On any given day, every three minutes a child visits the ER for a toy-related injury, according to the leading industry watchdog.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all potential sources of danger in your home, you can avoid products that have been flagged by experts as potentially hazardous. After all, there are aisles upon aisles of other gift ideas.
Avoid the ER this winter by removing these 10 products from your holiday gifting.
1. Nerf Guns
Ever-popular, Nerf guns are also ever-hazardous to the eyes. Many models are pushing the limits on the power that they pack.
The Nerf Vortex VTX Blaster is the number one product on the “10 Worst Toys” list for 2018 because the “launch-force of the discs presents the potential for eye and facial injuries.” The medical literature has noted the danger of this particular brand of toy gun.
Other Nerf models that have been called into question for potential for eye injury include the Nerf Zombie Strike Dreadbolt crossbow and the Nerf Rival Apollo XV-700 Blaster.
If your child plays with Nerf guns, safety glasses or goggles are a must. There are even some face masks marketed by toy companies with designs and characters that kids will find appealing. Let a superhero face mask or racing goggles help with buy-in on this critical safety step.
2. Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket
Kids launch the rocket by stomping on an air-filled compartment. The rocket has the power to fly 200 feet. That power translates into a lot of force hitting whatever the rocket comes into contact with, whether that is the ground or an eyeball.
3. The Slimeball Slinger
This rubbery projectile toy is a slimy take on the traditional slingshot but no less dangerous. Despite being on the “Worst Toys” list several years ago, it is still on the market, as are many others.
4. Water Balloon Launchers
While they can be fun on hot summer days, water balloons shot out of a giant slingshot pose a risk of eye injury if the balloon bursts near the face. Snapping elastic can have a concentrated amount of force, enough to do damage to sensitive eye surfaces.
5. Drones and Remote Controlled Helicopters
While drones are relatively new on the scene, remote-controlled helicopters are also gaining popularity. Both share the potential for their spinning blades to cause eye injury, especially when they crash into something and pieces fly off. The debris can be traveling at faster speeds than in other, non-motorized toys. Researchers have even looked into this type of injury as its own category of eye injuries because of the growing popularity of drones and model helicopters.
6. Laser Toys or Pointers
Lasers are not appropriate toys for children. They can cause permanent blindness, and often children don’t realize the danger of looking into them.
Even very bright flashlights can pose a danger to eyes for similar reasons.
If your child has any kind of flashlight in their toy, have a discussion about what to do and what not to do.
Toy weapons like swords might seem like a classic toy. However, consider that, even when blunted and made out of plastic, toy weapons are still shaped like… er, weapons. Toy swords, knives, sabers, guns with bayonets can still poke an eye or scratch a cornea with a tip.
Toy fishing poles have safety experts worried for the same reason, and toy wands can pose a similar danger.
Any long, thin, pointed object can do damage if it comes into contact with an eye unexpectedly.
7. Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade
This sword-shaped blade is spring-loaded. The manufacturer cautions users not to:
- aim at eyes or face
- aim toy at anyone
- hit anyone with toy
- poke anyone with toy
- swing at anyone
However, the chances that kids will not use the toy weapon as a weapon are very small indeed.
8. Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw
Although the product carries similar warnings not to use the claw as a weapon, this expectation is far from realistic.
With “Slash claw” in its name, it is likely that children will wield it as a weapon in mock battles, posing a risk to eyes, in much the same way that the hero of the movie did during battle.
In fact, the Foundation Fighting Blindness identifies the misuse of toys as one of the leading causes of eye injury to children.
9. Chemistry Sets
While the risk to eyes for the other toys on our list was from foreign bodies, the potential hazard with a chemistry set is chemical burn from fumes or splashes.
Adult supervision is necessary with a gift like a chemistry set.
Read instructions and know what to do if accidental exposure occurs.
10. BB Guns
If projectile launchers of any kind pose a danger to eyes, this is danger is multiplied many times with higher-powered projectiles like BB guns and pellet guns.
In fact, several states regulate them as firearms, demonstrating that the safety issues surrounding them are just as serious.
The Vision Reference Library says that “Guns are the worst offenders of eye safety” and that “Year after year, BB guns, paintball and pellet guns as well as missile firing toys continue to top the danger list.”
Although BB guns might not do as much damage to the rest of the body as guns do, you don’t want BBs ending up in your eyes either.
If your children handle these things, proper eyewear is again an absolute must, as are other safety precautions and adult supervision. Safety glasses can prevent serious injury and potential blindness. Bard Optical can help you with shooter’s glasses. Many safety goggles today can be made with a prescription, just as you’d have in regular eyeglasses.
For more on product safety, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau.