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Dear Marianne:

How can you tell if these holiday "hot toy" lists are credible or just advertising?

Shelley, New York, NY, Mom of Luke (4) and Max (18 months)
The best way to approach a "hot" toy list is to read it for information and not as a shopping list. Most of these lists have little or no research behind them. To determine if a list is credible or not, look for these red flags.

1. The list is based purely on opinion. Anyone can have an opinion.
There are more scientific ways to evaluate toys.

2. Kids are billed as toy experts. Children are toy consumers, not toy
experts.

3. The list contains nothing but descriptions of the toys. That's a
hint there was never really any testing or evaluation.
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Teaching Child Pedestrians Rules of the Road


An estimated 23,000 children are injured in pedestrian incidents involving motor vehicles each year. When is comes to practicing safe pedestrian behavior, children need parents to not only tell them the rules of the road — but show them. The most important thing you can do to teach your kids safe pedestrian behavior is to practice it yourself: crossing streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks whenever possible, and making eye contact with drivers prior to crossing in front of them.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends the following to keep your children safe:
* Never allow children under 10 never cross the street alone. Adult supervision is vital until your child demonstrates traffic skills and judgment.
* Teach children to recognize and obey all traffic signals and markings. A flashing "walk" sign is not an automatic "go" signal. It means a pedestrian has permission to cross, but must first stop and look both ways for cars.
* Make sure children look in all directions before crossing the street. Teach them to stop at the curb or edge of the road, and to look left, right and left again for traffic before and while crossing the street.
* Teach children not to enter the street from between parked cars or from behind bushes or shrubs. Darting into the street accounts for the majority of child pedestrian fatalities.
* Teach children to cross the street at a corner or crosswalk. Make sure children allow plenty of time to cross. Teach them to walk, not run, across intersections. Tell children to listen to adult crossing guards or safety patrols at monitored intersections.
* Make sure children know the safest route to their destination. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings. Walk the route with children until they demonstrate traffic safety awareness. They should take the same route every time and avoid shortcuts.
* Children should always wear retro-reflective materials and carry a flashlight if walking at dawn and dusk. Nearly half of child pedestrian deaths occur between 4 and 8 p.m.


For further information, please visit the National SAFE KIDS Campaign's website at: http://www.safekids.org





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