December means decking the halls, holiday carols, getting together with family, and of course the height of gift giving each year. December also marks “Safe Toys and Gifts” month, a good reminder to keep safety front and center as you decide which toys from the wish list will indeed find their way under the tree.
One of the hottest gifts this holiday season is the hoverboard. While Marty McFly was a hovering pro within minutes and made zooming around town look like a piece of cake, there are many safety concerns to consider. These boards are actually self-balancing, so it’s important to make sure to put safety first with a helmet, knee and elbow pads. There have also been recent reports of these boards overheating while both charging and in use, and catching on fire. Manufacturers suggest giving the board time to cool off after use, before recharging, and warn not to overcharge the device. Specific safety instructions are listed in the operating manual, but if your device is overheating while in use, this could be due to a faulty battery that needs replacing. If this high-tech treat makes your wish list this year, be sure to start slow, gear up and call the manufacturer if you notice your feet get too warm during your ride.
Here are some additional tips to help make smart buying decisions this holiday season:
Kid’s Corner. It’s important to buy toys appropriate for a child’s age. That can mean avoiding toys with small removable parts and possible choking hazards or noting which toys have long strings and straps that could pose a strangulation hazard. Popular ideas for safety-conscious gifts include sports equipment – like basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes or footballs – which also encourage outdoor activity, large building blocks, and interactive play sets – like a child-size kitchen set. When determining if a gift is age-appropriate, it has also become crucial to take technology into consideration.
Tech Talk. Technology is advancing rapidly, and becoming enmeshed in each and every part of our daily lives. When buying techie gifts, be sure you understand the terms and conditions that come along with them, like a new cell phone plan or video game system. It’s also helpful to know how much Internet access the recipient will have. Video games, computers and phones all allow chatting and interactions that aren’t always easily monitored and can leave kids exposed to outside threats. Some trending tech gifts this holiday season include smart watches like Apple Watch®, fitness trackers like Fitbit® and video drones – with many brands offering kid-friendly options of these popular products.
Family Fun. Sometimes it’s exciting to buy a gift for the whole family to share, like a new pet, without considering external factors. Is it possible family members are allergic or afraid of certain animals, or don’t have time to really care for the pet? If you’re looking for fun family-bonding gifts, consider kitchen aids like pasta makers, playsets like K’NEX®, a Roku® player for streaming movies and entertainment, family friendly and interactive video games like Rock Band™, or even a good, old-fashioned board game. Another option for family time this holiday season is to consider bringing the whole family to a local shelter or food bank to help those in need.
Finally, recalls are always a major concern. If you’re curious about items that have been recalled, you can check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) site which oversees the safety of toys and many other consumer products, and requires toy manufacturers to meet stringent safety standards.
Happy holidays, and happy shopping!