Timed to coincide with holiday shopping, December is Safe Toys and Gift Month.

Shopping online has some hazards you may not have thought about. If the products you order are manufactured in another country and then shipped to you, they may have bypassed close inspection. Since 2011, millions of units of over 5,000 different types of toys and children’s products have been stopped at U.S. ports due to hazards or failure to meet our federal safety standards. Detained products have included lead, small parts, sharp points, and/or lacked any kind of safety warning labels.

Be diligent about safety when choosing gifts this season. Use the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) website to check for recalls and warnings. (Remember the scooters that burst into flame?) The website can be found at www.cpsc.gov. A similar website is www.recalls.gov. The information on both websites is updated regularly. If you “don’t do computers,” you may contact Health Navigation at 515-993-3750 for phone numbers for these.

Safety standards include consumer goods for adults, too. The USCPSC issues warnings about faulty tools, furniture, appliances, cosmetics, and much more. Two recent warnings were on a particular archery crossbow and a riding mower. Buyer beware!