Toy recalls: what to avoid this holiday season

While the end of November reminds most people of Thanksgiving: a day full of turkey, pumpkin pie and family. A day where most of America (except for Golden Corral) takes the day off to watch football, or in my family’s case, eat treats and play games all day.

But for other Americans the end of November signifies a whole other breed of day: Black Friday shopping.

For those who are not familiar with Black Friday shopping, it is a huge shopping day to kick off the holidays the Friday after Thanksgiving. It is called Black Friday because it is usually the first day of the year that the companies are out of the ‘red’. Or simple, they are making money.

Crazed shoppers, scrounging for the cheapest prices on all of their holiday wishes line up hours, even days, before a store opens its doors so they can get the best deal possible. The store opening times have gotten earlier and earlier every year with many opening on midnight (Thursday night/ Friday morning) or earlier Thanksgiving evening.

To add to the excitement, Black Friday ads for the big stores (Wal-mart, Best Buy, etc.) were leaked weeks in advance.

For those who want to sleep in, fine. Take the day off. But Black Friday signifies more than just a day of deals; it signifies the beginning of the holiday season. If anything, it is a wake up call to get into holiday high gear.

Just like the anticipation of Black Friday deals, the year’s hottest toys are always circling around. Thankfully, I do not have kids yet so I do not get pushed into the hustle of the ‘it’ toy that I must buy to be considered a good parent.

With each yearly list of the toy of children’s dreams comes a list of the most dangerous holiday toys to avoid. And a consumer watch group has published their toy black list. In recent years toy recalls have increased significantly. The increase can be attributed to two different causes. One, the production of toys is becoming careless. Or two, companies are taking action sooner and recalling toys.

The scariest issue with toy recalls is that the recall is often spurred by a serious injury or death. Why else would a company yank a toy off the shelves?

To avoid any unwanted holiday injuries, make sure to buy safe toys. First and foremost, buy toys that are age appropriate. Some games have an age minimum because it is intellectually too hard for younger children. However, many have an age minimum (usually printed on the box) because the pieces might be a choking hazard for a young child.

Also be cautious about the accessories on toys. A toy wooden toy on wheels pulled by a string is a seemingly innocent toy for a young toddler to pull around the house. But long pieces of string are extremely dangerous for young children to play with as they can be a choking hazard.

This holiday season, nix using your personal health insurance for a visit to the emergency room by selecting safe toys for your kids.