If you have been wondering about the safety of children’s toys on the market this holiday season and whether certain toys are safer than others, there is an organization which has done some of the homework for you. The consumer watchdog, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), has examined the array of toys for sale this season, and is pleased to note that “toys today are safer than they’ve ever been before, [but] there are still dangerous and/or toxic toys on store shelves.” http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/most-dangerous-toys-2012-173200226.htm.
The group’s “Trouble in Toyland” report reviewed 200 toys purchased at toy retailers, such as Toys R Us and Target and dollar-type stores. The report issued shortly before Thanksgiving noted that there weren’t as many toxic toys on the shelves as expected. Nasima Hossain, a public health advocate with PIRG recommends parents still watch for common hazards in toys when toy shopping. Common hazards in toys can be:
- Toys that contain sharps–anything that could cut, puncture or stick a child;
- Toys with small detachable parts that could pose a choking hazard;
- Toys that contain toxic chemicals, such as lead or phthalate levels higher than allowable limits;
- Toys that require heat or electricity and could pose a fire/burn hazard;
- Toys that explode or implode, or smoke–again, watch for a fire or inhalation hazards;
- Toys that shoot projectiles, such as the “Dart Zone Quick Fire 12 dart gun” which was identified as having a potential to produce eye injuries;
- Toys that could become unsafe for young children that might be safer for older children;
- Toys that contain high-powered magnets, sold as “Bucky Balls” or toys that contain button batteries that can be swallowed;
- Water absorbing toys that can expand if ingested, such as the Water Balz toys by Dunecraft (94,700 of these were recalled yesterday by the CPSC);
- Toys or child furniture that are flimsy or that appear not to be well put-together (and may collapse on a child, such as the toy wooden puppet stages recalled during the year); and
- Toys that are too loud and can be harmful to children’s ears because they exceed the current noise standards.
The PIRG identified specific toys as containing hazards, including the Dora Backpack, by Global Design Concepts Inc., for its apparently high phthalate levels, and the Dora Tunes Guitar for its excessive loudness. Another toy, “Snake Eggs” made by GreenBrier International Inc. was found to be an ingestion hazard, and the Morphbot toy, also by GreenBrier, was identified as having high lead levels. The “Just Like Home 120-piece Super Play Food Sets” sold by Toys R Us, were identified as containing choking hazards for small children, as were the “Pullback Dragster Cars by Z Wind Ups” found to have choking hazards and warning labels too small to be easily read.
ChildSafetyBlog.org wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season!
I’m not sure how it’s the holiday season again, because it seems like it just ended yesterday. I am particularly distressed about how Christmas continues to invade November – this year, here in Charlottesville, the town lit its Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. Despite all we are hearing about the economy, the retail chaos has started. Money is tight for a lot of people, and this naturally leads people to purchase less expensive toys for their kids. Unfortunately, it is usually the cheaper toys that are poorly designed and poorly made. Parents should be vigilant in inspecting all toys bought for or given to their children.
But it’s important that parents know what to look for. In that vein, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) has recently released their 24th annual report on toy safety entitled “Trouble in Toyland” which draws attention to toys which might present a danger to children. USPIRG’s report divides “dangerous” toys into 16 different categories, including toys that are too noisy and may endanger children’s hearing, toys with small or detachable parts that could be accidentally swallowed, and toys that may contain potentially toxic chemicals (lead and phthalates), to name only a few.
And a really cool feature – they also has an interactive smart phone website: http://www.toysafety.mobi to aid shoppers in avoiding already-known toy hazards and to report potential dangers. So, if you have a question about a toy while your shopping, you can access this site and get an immediate answer.
A recent CNN “American Morning” show examined several toys which were identified in the USPIRG report as containing potential hazards to children, such as the “Real Wood Shape Sorter Barn” made by P&C, which had a toy part on the side of the barn that could be a choking hazard to a child. Also, Kota and Pals Stompers Triceratops made by Playskool was identified as a toy potentially too noisy for children’s ears. Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, indicated, however, that this particular “toy complies with all sound requirements” answering USPIRG’s concern. A toy identified as potentially toxic to children is “The Elmo Lunch Bag” made by Fast Forward, New York.
A variety of different child safety resources all generally agree on how best to protect kids from potentially dangerous toys. Here are some tips on toys and toy shopping for your child’s safety:
- Keep toys with tiny parts away from children younger than 3 years old. These toys and their parts are choking hazards for infants and toddlers.
- If you purchase a toy a child can ride (tricycle, bicycle, scooter, etc.), remember helmets are important and necessary for the safety of your child when using these toys and should accompany their purchase.
- If you use a shopping cart of any kind, make sure your child remains seated and secured with a seat belt. And watch little hands carefully when you are at the check-out counter!
- When shopping for toys, take into consideration a child’s age, interests and abilities. A “grown-up” toy in a child’s hands can be boring, frustrating , and sometimes dangerous.
- Whether you shop at a mall toy shop or at a large distributor, or thrift or second-hand store, check http://www.recalls.gov or http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html to make sure children’s toys and products haven’t been previously recalled for safety reasons.
Have a happy and safe holiday!
Just in time for Christmas, an organization called W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) has released its annual list of the top 10 worst toys. What amazes me is that all of the hazards here have long been established — choking hazards, projectiles that can damage eyes, etc – yet these dangerous toys still reach the market. There is no approval or evaluation process by any government agency for toys – the CPSC only steps in when a problem is identified. Please go to the next page for the list.
Click here for a list of the worst toys of all time (complete with Lawn Darts). These would be funny if not for the fact that each of these put thousands of kids needlessly at risk.
Animal Alley Purse Pet
Ninja Battle Gear – Michelangelo
Walk’n Sounds Digger The Dog
Pucci Puppies – My Own Puppy House Golden Retriever
Meadow Mystery Play-A-Sound Book With A Cuddly Pooh
Inflatable Giga Ball
Spider-Man Adjustable Toy Skates
Extreme Spiral Copters
Go Go Minis Pullback Vehicle