Toy boxes are a part of nearly every person's childhood experience. What parents often do not realize is that many deaths and severe injuries have been caused by poorly designed, damaged, or misused toy boxes. Dangers from toy boxes include strangulation that can occur when the child is trapped by the lid, asphyxiation from becoming trapped in the toy box, and other such unthinkable tragedies.
Remember that nearly everything that a young child encounters has a very good chance of winding up in his or her mouth. When it comes to ingesting foreign objects, paint chips are a perennial toddler favorite. Therefore, parents need to ensure that their toy box is coated with a finish that is nontoxic. Additionally, parents should be aware that untreated wooden toy boxes pose a fairly severe splinter risk.
The biggest dangers from toy boxes are posed by the lid. In days past, toy box lids had simple swinging hinges. The toy box lid had nothing to prop it up, so it would fall uncontrollably when shutting. While most of us who had toy boxes of this type suffered at most bruised fingers when the lid was dropped accidentally, many other youngsters have suffered much more serious injuries. A number of children have actually been killed when the lid from their toy box fell down while they were looking inside the toy box. The most common fatal accident of this type occurs when the child has his or her head inside the toy box and the lid falls on the neck causing suffocation.
All modern toy boxes come with specialized hinges that allow the door to stay upon no matter the hinge angle. Shutting such toy boxes requires a continuous downward pressure (and may be difficult or impossible for smaller children to close). This type of hinge system prevents these types of accidents from occurring.
Another common toy box tragedy occurs when the lid falls when the child is inside the toy box. Even if the lid falling did not cause any injury, toy box lids can be heavy and it might be impossible for the child to escape. This situation could possibly lead to suffocation. Therefore, parents should make sure that their children's toy boxes come equipped with ventilation holes which allow airflow even when the box is closed.
Specialized hinges and ventilation holes can prevent many of the more common toy box injuries. Parents should remain vigilant and periodically inspect the safety hinges for any signs of fatigue or wear and replace them before they reach a state where they can potentially fail. Parents must also ensure that the ventilation holes are never blocked or otherwise compromised. Even the most stringent safety measures can be worthless if parents do not do their part to make sure that they stay effective.
Credit: V. Scott