‘Tis the season for many Moms and Dads to go toy shopping. But before you pick up your child’s most- wanted plaything, it is essential to make sure that it’s a safe one. Every year, there are more than 192,000 emergency-room treated injuries in the United States that are toy-related. But there are ways to help prevent your child from being hurt by a dangerous or defective toy, and it’s not as complicated as it may seem.
First, you should know that toy safety is a priority. The U.S. has stringent safety requirements that toymakers must meet before their products can hit the market. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a global network of third-party testing laboratories that evaluate every toy, not only for its structural design but also for its lead and phthalate content. Over the past five years, CPSC reports that it, along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has prevented nearly 10 million units of 3,000 different toys that violated safety standards from hitting store shelves or e-retail sites.
Despite the strict screening process, it is impossible for inspectors to catch every hazard that a single toy may pose. Unfortunately, the dangers are only uncovered when reports of serious injuries or deaths are reported to CPSC or to manufacturers themselves. That’s when you hear about a product being recalled. The majority of toy recalls are related to ingestion hazards, including dangers caused by chemicals or magnetic devices. So far, there have been 31 toy recalls in the U.S. this year, none of which were due to lead violations.
Help for Holiday Shopping
With Christmas around the corner, the idea of investigating whether your child’s hoped-for toy is safe may seem daunting. But here are some things that may expedite the process:
First, some basics:
- Toy-related deaths tend to be associated with riding toys, such as tricycles, non-motorized scooters, skateboards and in-line skates. If you are purchasing such a product, make sure that you also buy a helmet and suggested safety gear as well.
- Asphyxiation and aspiration are the next leading causes of injuries and deaths related to toys. It is important to purchase age-appropriate toys and to keep small parts and packaging away from children.
Additional holiday buying tips:
- Find out which toys have been recalled by the CPSC on their website. The Toy Industry Association also provides safety information and photos of recalled products for consumers.
- Toys that have been recalled are usually pulled from shelves and e-markets quickly, but if you have already bought a recalled item, you can contact the manufacturer or CPSC to learn about how to resolve the issue.
- Be careful about buying secondhand toys. While many of the items are perfectly safe, the seller may not know if the item has been recalled or even if he/she does, may not disclose it to you.
- Remember that not all injuries are outwardly apparent, especially with lead toxicity. According to CPSC, at-home lead testing kits are not always accurate, and it is best to contact your pediatrician if you suspect your child has lead poisoning.
- Beware of magnetized items. All magnets in children’s toys are required to be encapsulated. All high-powered magnets should be kept away from children, but also be careful with playsets and building toys that have small magnets, particularly around small children.
- Once the gifts are opened, make sure to supervise all battery charging. Thermal burns have been associated with chargers, some of which do not have a shut-off mechanism for overcharging.
To report an unsafe toy or toy-related injury, visit www.SaferProducts.gov or call the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772 or by teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054.
You should also consider speaking with a personal injury and product liability attorney who can help you determine if legal action is possible given the circumstances of your child’s injury. A variety of parties may be held accountable when an accident involving dangerous toys occurs, and families often need compensation to help care for their injured loved one in the weeks, months and even years to come.