Shopping at Christmas can prove hazardous both to your wealth and your health. Buying toys at Christmas can even be a nightmare for some parents. The National Consumer Agency have an excellent website – – with regular tips on a variety of consumer and finance topics. Each month they bring out a newsletter with relevant tips and advice. From their November newsletter I have extracted safety tips both on buying toys and decorations this Christmas :

Safety tips for Christmas

  • Always buy toys from trustworthy retailers– they keep the toys in good condition and they will usually accept returns. Rogue traders may ignore health and safety standards and sell fake toys. Carefully check toys purchased online, from street traders, and toys bought second-hand.
  • Check for the CE mark– If the toy does not have the official CE mark, or does not have the CE mark at all, don’t buy it!
  • Check the age range Check if there is a warning about an appropriate age group for the toy, particularly the 0 to 3 symbol, as this will indicate if it is suitable for the child. Think about any younger children in your household who might be in danger if they play with the toy also.
  • Give recommendations of appropriate toys to family and friends who wish to buy for your child.
  • Check for detachable small parts that could lodge in the ears, nose or throat, and cause an injury or a choke hazard to your child.
  • Check that it has no sharp edges, long cords or cables. Avoid dangerous or foldaway parts or small holes that could trap little fingers.
  • Watch out for toys containing magnets– Toys made of multiple magnetic parts could be harmful if ingested as they can get stuck together and cause greater issues. If you think your child has ingested a small part of a toy or a magnet bring them to the emergency room straight away. Toys with magnets should have a warning displayed at the point of sale, on the packaging or attached to the toy.
  • Get a good quality charger– if you are buying expensive electronic equipment for an older child. Always buy chargers from a reputable retailer and check that they have the CE mark. With poor quality chargers there is a greater risk of electrocution/fire/ damaging the electronic equipment. When buying a charger, if it feels very light, or if the USB port is up-side-down or if there is misspelling of words on the charger, don’t buy it.

Checks to make after you buy a toy

  • Remove all packagingand keep out of reach of children. Plastic packaging can cause suffocation.
  • Read all safety instructions that come with the toy for proper toy assembly and use. They should be written clearly and in English. Keep the instructions and information that are packaged with the toy in a safe place.
  • Check for batteries– If the toy uses batteries, make sure the child cannot open the part of the toy where the batteries are stored. Avoid mixing old and new batteries or different strength batteries in the toy as this can make the old or weaker batteries very hot. Also, keep watch or ‘button’ batteries away from small children as these can be dangerous if swallowed.
  • Don’t forget the helmet If you are getting your child a bike, scooter, skateboard or skates, don’t forget a helmet and protective wrist, elbow and knee pads. You will know that your child is safe when they are using it and they understand that the equipment goes with using the toy.

Christmas decorations

  • Only buy your decorations and tree from a reputable retailer.
  • Try to avoid glass decorations or decorations that are too easily broken to avoid the risk of cuts to children.
  • Shiny or sparkly decorations can attract children so check your decorations don’t have small parts that could be a choking risk to children if they get their hands on them.
  • Be careful of where you place Christmas lights as they can be a strangulation risk as well as a choking risk.
  • Christmas crackers can have small parts or sharp parts inside of them that may not be suitable for children.
  • If using heavy holders for Christmas stockings, be mindful that children could pull them down on top of them causing serious injury. Keep the stockings out of reach of children.

While Santa is checking his list and checking it twice, so should you.

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