If your child has a need for speed, he might beg for a battery-powered riding toy that will allow him to zip around the yard. Each year, many parents purchase these four-wheel vehicles, also called quads, styled for boys and girls in a variety of designs -- especially around Christmas time. But, riding quads presents an increased accident risk for children under age 14, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) reports. To keep your little racer safe, enforce safety rules and supervise him while he rides.
Don't simply look at the manufacturer's suggested age when buying a battery-powered quad for your child; look at your child. While some 4-year-olds will be tall enough and mature enough to steer and handle a quad, many will not be. As your child's parent, you should measure your child's physical and emotional ability before letting him drive or ride in a quad. With that in mind, you should choose a quad that fits your child's needs -- for example, some manufacturers make quads that only move forward, specifically with toddlers in mind, while others make quads for older children that move both forward and backward.
Falls account for most of the injuries that occur on riding toys, according to CHOP. Most toy quads are relatively stable, but riding a quad on an unstable surface or while traveling uphill, going too fast on gravel or not wearing the safety belt can increase the risk of falls and thus, injury. In 2009, 45 percent of toy-related injuries affected the head or neck area, Safe Kids USA reports.
Your child should always put on his helmet before riding his quad, along with knee and elbow pads to protect him in case of a fall. Most quads are equipped with belts that, while not the equal of an adult seat belt, will help keep your child from falling out. Make sure the belt fits tightly; a belt that's too loose might catch around his foot or leg if he's thrown out of the vehicle or when he tries to climb out. Have him ride only on a flat surface to reduce the risk of the quad tipping over. Keep him out of the road -- away from speeding cars -- even if you're supervising him.
Older Riding Toys
Battery-powered quads sold before 1998 can pose a potential fire risk. The Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a report in 1998 that riding toys made by Fisher-Price could catch fire when plugged in or while a child is riding it. With that in mind, don't buy an quad at a garage sale or borrow one from a relative unless you're sure it was made after 1998.
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