December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month; Tips to prevent serious injuries

Eau Claire, Wis. – Buying toys for children during the holidays holds a special place in our heart and making sure those toys are safe and age appropriate should be a top priority. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates emergency rooms across the country treated 198,000 toy-related injuries in 2020; And so far in 2021, 13 toys have been recalled by the organization for potential risk of lead exposure, choking hazards and excessive noise levels.

Robin Schultz, director of emergency services at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals says eye injuries prompt many ER visits.

“Some toys that appear to be simple and the most kid friendly can be deceiving,” she says “Soft launch toy guns, foam rocket launchers, and pointy objects such as sabers – even if they’re foam – can easily and quickly damage kids’ and adults’ eyes.”

HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals and Prevea Health encourage adults to keep the following in mind when toy shopping year-round:

  • Avoid toys that launch objects into the air. These toys could cause serious and permanent eye injuries.
  • Consider a child’s temperament, habits and behaviors. Even a child who seems advanced compared with others the same age, shouldn’t use toys intended for older children. The recommended age levels for toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.
  • Always read labels to become familiar with safety concerns such as the risk of fire, strangulation and choking.
  • Throw away packaging after gift opening. Packaging can be a choking hazard or may cause suffocation and/or cuts.
  • If you buy a toy with wheels such as a bicycle, tricycle, skateboard or scooter, also purchase a helmet to prevent serious head injuries.
  • Listen to a toy before purchasing it. If you think it sounds loud, or it causes ringing in your ears, it is likely too loud for a child or adolescent.

Prevea Health audiologist, Kimberly Finlan says continued exposure to noise above 70 dBA (adjusted decibels) over time will cause hearing loss. The CPSC reports certain rattles, squeak toys and musical toys can produce sounds as high as 120 dBA.

For reference, here are the dBA levels of certain common sounds:

  • 0 The softest sound a person can hear with normal hearing
  • 10 Normal breathing
  • 60 Normal conversation
  • 60-85 Vacuum cleaner
  • 80 Doorbell
  • 110 Baby crying
  • 120 Thunder
  • 150 Jet engine taking off

“Some toys and most electronics allow parents to set a volume limit which can really help,” says Finlan. “It’s also important for parents to teach older kids how to properly use toys and electronics such as headphones and tablets. If you have concerns about your child’s hearing health, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist.”

Prevea Audiology care is available in Chippewa Falls, Altoona, Mondovi and Rice Lake. Appointments can be made by calling (715) 717-6885.

For more information about toy safety, visit:



About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital

HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.


About HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital

HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1885, it has served the people of the Chippewa Falls area with health care that is high tech and high touch. Known locally for the quality of the care it provides patients, the hospital has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction levels.

About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high-quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states – Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit


Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department
HSHS Wisconsin
Office: (715) 717-4591
Cell: (715) 717-4747

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