Tag Archives: toy safety

Holiday Toy Safety

The consumer advocacy group, USPIRG, has released its annual Trouble in Toyland report highlighting toys that raise concerns because of toxic substances, choking hazards, magnets or excessive noise. All of these toys were purchased from national retailers or online.  Make this holiday a safe and happy one!

warning toy hazard photo



Dangerous Toys of 2012

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!

Holiday Toy Safety

This week, holiday toy catalogs are loading up mailboxes throughout the country. Having reviewed several of them and the toys they advertise with mixed feelings, I believe parents, caregivers and family members need to watch out for some unsafe toys on the market this season.

There are brightly colored, attractive plastic toys–sold under reputable brand names that bear little or no warnings about having possibly detachable parts. And it’s not only children’s toys to watch out for: Adult desk toys can easily get into the hands of little ones and sometimes contain magnets or small balls. There are quite a number of toys that look cool but could create dangers for young children. If you think a toy could be unsafe, it probably is. Some toys which are okay for older children can create trouble for a little one, such as toys with small parts or balls that could get lodged in a throat or windpipe, toys that use heat or electricity to run them, or contain chemicals, or coins. If there are toddlers in the home, you can expect them to be curious, so you need think about the safety of the entire family when purchasing toys.

Many people not only buy toys for their own children but often for the children of friends and relatives. One helpful hint when buying toys for other children is to contact their parents to learn what they already have in their toy chest and, not only what they like, but what type of toy their parents would approve of them receiving. Beyond the type of toy, parents also need to think about what children are ready to play with–stretching a child’s capabilities can be good, but giving a child a toy that is far beyond the level of their hand-eye coordination, for example, or for which they have not reached a certain level of learning could create a safety disaster as well as disappointment.

For young children, toys to avoid are toys with sharp edges, small detachable parts, “bucky” balls, small magnets, attachments, or batteries that can be swallowed, and toys with lead paint or that contain toxic materials. Plush toys that are too big for small children and toys with plastic or rubber masks also present the danger of suffocation, and they are on the market. KidsHealth from Nemours[1][1] suggests the following when going to purchase toys:

  • If purchasing toys made of fabric, they should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant;
  • Stuffed toys need to be washable;
  • Toys that are painted need to be painted with lead-free, non-toxic paint;
  • Art supplies need to be labeled “non-toxic”;
  • Crayons and paints should say “ASTM D-4236 on the package which means they have been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials;
  • Avoid older toys which are hand-me-downs, or worn out toys that can break and become hazardous;
  • Make sure if a toy makes sounds that the sounds are not too loud for your child–especially when a little one holds it close to their ears!

We hope these hints are helpful to you as you shop for safe toys this season!

Toys ‘R’ Us Recalls Imaginarium Activity Center

Toys ‘R’ Us rarely recalls toys as we have learned over the years, however, the CPSC and Toys ‘R’ Us are voluntarily recalling approximately 24,000 Imaginarium Activity Centers due to a choking hazard. The problem is the five-sided wooden Imaginarium Activity Center has small wooden knobs which attach xylophone keys to the activity center and can detach, causing a choking hazard to young children. The Imaginarium was manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. by Toys ‘R’ Us.

Fortunately, there have only been eight reports of the knobs detaching and no reports of injuries thus far. Consumers will find the model number 46284, the Toys ‘R’ Us item number 295909, and the barcode number000799985462841 printed on the box the Imaginarium came in, not on the product itself.

The Imaginarium Activity Center was sold throughout the nation at Toys “R” Us stores and online via www.toysrus.com from August 2009 through September 2010 for approximately $25.

Consumers are advised to completely remove this toy from children’s access and return it to Toys ‘R’ Us for a full refund or store credit. Consumers can contact Toys “R” Us on their toll-free number at 1(800) 869-7787 between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Saturday and between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, or visit the firm’s website at www.toysrus.com/safety.

To view a photo of the Imaginarium Activity Center, please visit CPSC’s website at:


Toy Safety This Holiday Season

Did you know that most toy purchases take place each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas? SafeKids encourages parents to educate themselves and offers the following safety tips for purchasing toys:

  • When purchasing toys for children, consider their ages and skill levels. Most toys have an age specification on the packaging, such as “For 3+” or “Not for Under 3 Years.”
  • Make certain toys for older kids are stored separately from those for younger children. Older children might receive toys with small, detachable parts, but are unlikely to put the parts in their mouths.
  • Make sure toys with small, detachable parts are kept away from children under 3 years old. Small, detachable parts are choking hazards.
  • Check the toys your children have for any damage or breakage that could cause injury.
  • Always supervise young children playing with toys that are battery-powered, electric, or operated by remote control. This season, particularly, watch out for toys that fly and toys that climb walls and can fall on children.
  • Always supervise young children playing with toys that have small balls, strings, small parts or contain magnets.
  • Always supervise children playing with any kind of riding toy or toys that might create a fall hazard, such as trampolines, swings or pogo-sticks or toys that resemble those. If you are thinking about purchasing a toy with wheels, you may also want to get a helmet to go with it.
  • Remember: According to SafeKids, active supervision means keeping children within sight and reach while paying undivided attention to them as they play.

And, as always, parents should stay informed about any unsafe toy products on the market by checking the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall website at http://www.recalls.gov and by checking in with us at http://www.ChildSafetyBlog.org.

Best wishes for a safe and happy ramp-up to this season of holiday gift-giving!

Toy Recalls and Another Look At Lead in Children’s Jewelry!

In accordance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the well-known children’s toy manufacturer, Fisher-Price, voluntarily recalled another children’s toy this past week.  Little People Play ‘n Go Campsite™ looked like a very attractive toy for kids.  Fisher-Price, based in East Aurora, New York, has produced and sold generations of parents their colorful, sturdy, good-looking toys for children; however, on August 5th, CPSC found it necessary to urge Fisher-Price to immediately recall 96,000 of the toys which were manufactured in China and exported to the U.S. and sold in the U.S. and Canada (14,000) from October 2009 through August 2010, for approximately $15.

The recall is due to the presence of small parts which may represent a choking hazard.  For a visual of this toy, go to the CPSC recall website located on the web at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10313.html

The particular small parts found in the Play n’ Go Campsite set’s “Sonya Lee” doll, which bends at the waist, are the specific potential hazard.  The doll can break at the waist causing small parts to be exposed.  CPSC notes: “The seven-piece plastic play set includes Sonya Lee, a tent and other accessories. Product number R6935 is printed on the toy’s packaging. The name, Sonya Lee, is printed on the underside of the figure. The remaining pieces of the Little People Play ‘n Go Campsite are not affected.”

As parents, caregivers, and family members, we know small children love to put things in their mouths which don’t necessarily belong there and we must continue to remain vigilant about what they put in their mouths.  At the same time, this child safety blogger notes that it is a disappointment to see toys that are less than safe arrive from China for sale to parents of America’s children!

Recently, Good Housekeeping (June 2010, p. 128) published a brief article entitled “Lead in Kids’ Jewelry.” GH’s investigative reporters spotted some jewelry that actually bore warnings that the jewelry was “not for children under ages 7”- despite the jewelry’s obvious appeal directed to small children.  Good Housekeeping became suspicious and had a variety of children’s earrings and necklaces they purchased at Wal-Mart and Target analyzed: “All 7 items contained lead well above the legal limit for children’s products.” Most of the products also contained cadmium (another heavy metal which can be poisonous if consumed)”!

So again, we need to be more than vigilant when visiting the children’s jewelry counter.  According to GH, one small stud earring from Wal-Mart contained “124 times the permissible lead level for kids.”  Along with Good Housekeeping, ChildSafetyBlog.org recommends:  Keep all jewelry away from young children! While ingesting an item containing heavy metals may not cause immediate harm or death, parents and caregivers need to immediately call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) if your child swallows such an item!

It’s Christmas Time Again – Safe Toys for All Those Good Little Girls and Boys

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!

Toy Safety Organization Releases Its Annual Top 10 Worst Toys

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
Sportsman Shotgun
Extreme Spiral Copters
Go Go Minis Pullback Vehicle

Recalls of Childrens’ Products – Child Safety Information

One of the important things I’d like to do with this site is provide a place where parents can get quick, easy access to recall information for children’s products.  Up-to-date recalls will be posted, and eventually we’ll have a sign-up for a monthly or weekly electronic newsletter that will, among other things, contain current recall information.

But what is a recall of a consumer product such as a toy or child safety seat?  A recall is a corrective action by a company with regard to a product that it has discovered may be unreasonably dangerous to users.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has jurisdiction over toys and child safety seats sold in the United States, as well as other consumer products such as household appliances, sporting equipment and furnaces.  It does not have jurisdiction over motor vehicles, drugs, pesticides or medical devices (other government agencies have jurisdiction over those).

The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) is the umbrella statute for the CPSC.  Section 2064(b) of the Act requires manufacterers, importers, distributors and Retailers to report to CPSC information about products that are potentially hazardous.

A firm or company must notify the CPSC if it discovers information that suggests one of it’s products:

1)     contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard;
2)     presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death;
3)     violates a mandatory CPSC standard.

If you would like to report a toy, car seat or other product that you believe is dangerous, go here.

If you would like more information on what has been recalled, go here or here.

As I stated above, we will soon have a regular email or electronic newsletter going out with current recall information.  If you would like to receive this information, please email me, Bryan Slaughter.