Each Christmas season, we feel the excitement of the season as the tree goes up, the decorations come out and the new toys of the season are introduced. As parents, safety in choosing which toys to purchase is just as important as purchasing the newest, coolest toys of the year. We must be cognizant of the risks of choking, deafening, poisoning or even the possibility of loss of limbs from either the correct and incorrect use of certain toys. Some hazards we look for with small children are toys with small parts which could present a choking hazard, toys that could overheat, and toys that could break easily and cause cuts or infections.
Gobble-Gobble Guppies made by Swimways and Super Play Food Set made by Geoffrey, LLC poses choking hazards due to small ball-like toys, toy parts and rounded food toys. Fisher-Price Loving Family Outdoor Barbeque, made by Mattel, poses a choking hazard with near-small parts. Punch Balloons made by Toy Investments, Inc. is a toy that is marketed to children under the age of eight, which presents a choking hazard as well. Toys which are painted may present a risk of poisoning.
According to USA Today, the Captain America Soft Shield is one of the worst offenders this Christmas, as it contains 29 times more lead than allowed by law. Five different Littlest Pet Shop toys were listed as potentially dangerous due to choking hazards caused by parts that can detach from the toys. The manufacturer of the Littlest Pet Shop line, Hasbro, claims the toy line was designed for children four years of age and older. The regulations for small parts apply to products made for children under three years of age. At the top of the toxic hazards list include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pencil case, made by Innovative Design. The Sonic Sound Sizzlers Noise Magnets, made by JA-RU, Inc. presents a magnetic hazard that can cause abdominal problems if swallowed. Mattel’s Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Remote poses a potential noise hazard as toys used near the ear are supposed to be below 65 decibels.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had a lab dedicated to toy safety since 2007. One of the ways the CPSC tests toys for safety is through use of a “choke tube”, which is a plastic cylinder designed to simulate the size of a 3-year old’s throat. As choking is the most common cause of toy-related deaths, testing movable parts in a toy can indicate how likely a child is to choke should the parts come loose from a toy and be placed into a small child’s mouth. The CPSC also performs “drop tests” on toys. Another safety hazard of toys is a child’s hearing. The Chat & Count Smart Phone produces 85 decibels of sound when activated, 20 more than the allowable limit. According to the “Trouble in Toyland” report, overall toy safety has improved, with only 31 toy recalls in 2013 down from 38 recalls in 2012, 50 in 2009 and 172 recalls in 2008, according to government figures. If you have purchased a toy which was unsafe or caused injuries, you may report it to the CPSC via saferproduct.gov or by calling 1-800-638-2772.