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Holiday toys can cause safety concerns for parents

The holidays are a great source of joy for parents and children alike. The gifts we share with each other can provide for lasting memories of fun and family. Unfortunately, with the newest toys come new safety hazards parents have to worry about. Crowded toy shelves leave parents uninformed about which toys may be safe for their children.

Fortunately, 2016's list of Top 10 Worst Toys was released by the non-profit group World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH). Since last year's holiday season, at least 19 toys have been recalled due to child safety hazards. The holiday season accounts for 65 percent of all toy sales in the United States. Therefore, it is important to ensure that gift giving does not coincide with a safety risk to your children.

Improper age markings and lack of proper safety equipment or warnings were among the common features of the 10 toys on the 'worst of' list.

Here are four tips to safe holiday to giving:

1. Thoroughly inspect toys

When shopping for your child, read all warnings on the packaging to make sure that you are aware of all features of the toy. If necessary after purchase, remove the toy from its packaging and physically inspect the included items to check for sharp ends and choking hazards.

If you believe you must return the toy due to a safety hazard, most stores have hassle-free return policies during the holidays to ensure your satisfaction as a customer.

2. Be proactive

Sometimes toys that could be safe are dangerous because they do include the proper safety equipment. A toy that shoots projectiles should include safety goggles. Use of a bike should coincide with a helmet. If the proper safety equipment is not included with the toy, purchase it separately and include it with the gift so that your child sees that the toy and safety equipment should be used together.

3. Don't take name brands for granted

As parents, we rely on name brands as easy indicators of safety and quality. However, as companies continue to cut costs through labor exports and lower quality raw goods, safety hazards could increase.

In addition to looking for name brands, check for a list of materials the toy was made with and where it was manufactured. Federal laws require the name and place of business of the manufacturer and quantity of contents to be listed on all packages. If the packaging of the toy does not include this information, do not buy it.

4. Warn caregivers to supervise play

Your child will continue to use the toy after the holidays and may use it even when you are not supervising their play. Inform caregivers such as grandparents, neighbors and babysitters to ensure your child is playing safely with their toy including the wearing of safety equipment.

Holiday preparations provide enough stress. There's no need for gift giving to turn into a risk for your child. By following these four toy safety tips, you can ensure that your child will have a safe and happy holiday season.

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