If you are a parent of young children, you are well aware that it’s time to start the holiday toy shopping. One of the things probably on your mind — along with the crowds, the costs, and how you fit in time for shopping with the rest of your life — is the safety of the toys your kids want. We all see lists of dangerous toys, but you may be wondering about the toy on the shelf in front of you that’s not on any lists.
The toy watchdog group WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm) believes that dangerous toys still slip through our many regulatory processes, only to be sold and cause harm. Did you know that at least 19 toys have been recalled for safety defects since January 2015? WATCH has also noted that a child is treated in an emergency room in this country about every three minutes for an injury related to a toy.
So, rather than looking at lists of specific toys which may not address the ones your child wants, what can a parent do? WATCH has 14 suggestions concerning what to watch out for:
- Toys sold without warnings, instructions, or age recommendations. Often these toys are marketed on the internet and might have been manufactured in countries with less-stringent safety standards than our own.
- Battery-operated toys marketed to children under the age of 8. Batteries can be dangerous, as anyone who has read about exploding cell phones knows. Batteries can also leak caustic fluids and can catch fire.
- Toys covered in fake fur or “hair.” Such materials can be aspirated, causing suffocation problems, or they can be eaten, causing choking problems.
- Toys that have mouth or throat-sized removable attachments, especially at the ends of strings or laces, are hazardous.
- Toys that shoot projectiles: dart guns, pea-shooters, sling shots, and so on.
- Toys with sharp edges or tips, presenting cutting or gouging risks.
- Toys with strings longer than six inches that are meant for small children, as these can be a strangulation hazard.
- Toys meant for very young children that are to be strung across a playpen or crib. In the past, these kinds of toys have caused injuries and deaths due to strangulation.
- Toys sold with other products, such as with clothing, food, and so on. Sometimes such toys are sold with no instructions, warnings, or appropriate age recommendations.
- Toys made out of flammable materials, which create a burn hazard.
- Toys requiring electricity to operate that lack the step-down transformers that reduce the risks of electrocution and shock.
- Toys with small parts, which present a choking risk.
- Toys with long handles for children under the age of 4. They can present choking hazards because children might put these toys far back in their mouths.
- Toys containing toxic components or surfaces that can be eaten or create skin irritations. In the past, some “play makeup kits” have contained ferrocyanide, which is poisonous.
If you are curious about past recalls, WATCH has a “report card” of safety changes they have achieved for toys over recent years.
Remember that toy recalls can’t do it all, though, because a recall only reacts to the problem; it doesn’t prevent the problem. While shopping this holiday season, carefully consider which toys might be safe for your children. Especially pay attention to age-appropriate recommendations, because such guidelines can often help prevent injuries.
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The Louthian Law Firm is family-owned and family-focused. That means we’re concerned about every member of your family — even the smallest. If your child is injured by a defective or unsafe toy or product, it may be that the negligence of another person, organization or manufacturer had a role in the accident. If our investigation finds that to be the case, you have the right to ask the manufacturer for money to cover your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability or loss. In order to protect that right, you should speak with the experienced South Carolina product injury attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible.