Watching your children open presents is one of the great joys of the holidays. Unfortunately, many manufacturers and distributors put dangerous toys into the marketplace. Some have unreasonably high levels of lead and chemicals and others present choking hazards.
When you shop for your little ones this year, keep toy safety in mind. If your child is harmed by a dangerous product, know that Pete Olson Injury Attorneys is here to help.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), toys accounted for 49 child deaths in a 3-year period. In one year, CPSC noted 155,440 emergency room visits for toy-related injuries and in the next, the Commission reported 212,400 incidents.
Data from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign confirms that 54% of recorded deaths were attributed to choking. Other fatalities came from riding toys, balloons, toy balls, and toy darts.
Laws and Regulations
The Child Safety Protection Act of 1995 bans toy balls with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less for children under 3. Any ball of this size intended for children over 3 years old must be labeled with a choking hazard. A similar warning must also appear on toys and games with small parts, latex balloons, and marbles.
Typically, the warning looks something like this:
CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts.
Not for children under 3 yrs.
In a similar vein, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act bans toys that contain dangerous substances, such as lead. The act also forbids toys that present an electrical, mechanical, or thermal hazard to children.
Under the Labeling of Hazardous Materials Act, any materials that contain hazardous substances must also be labeled inappropriate for children.
To self-regulate, the toy industry and the U.S. Department of Commerce developed the Standard Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety and the Marking of Toy Look-alike and Imitation Firearms Regulation. These regulations are designed to minimize the risk of injury from toys and distinguish toy guns from real guns, respectively.
While the rules and regulations listed above have helped reduce the number of children affected or killed by toy injuries, unsafe toys still make it onto shelves. Online, the problem is even more pervasive.
Avoid Gifts From Amazon and eBay
News coverage from the BBC and The Sun reveals as many as 1 in 5 toys sold on sites like Amazon and eBay have “serious safety issues.” Many of the items for sale on these e-commerce platforms had been recalled or stopped at the border due to safety concerns. Some toys had high levels of chemicals, others contained too much lead, and more still posed risks of intestinal blockage, choking, and suffocation.
Fortunately, the distributors responded swiftly to the report and the items are no longer available for sale online. Unfortunately, many of these popular toys have already been sold:
- Toy slime
- Transformers helmet
- Cartoon helicopters
- Magnetic building sets
- Inflatable swim rings
- Remote-controlled cars
The scariest part of purchasing toys online is that parents cannot physically inspect what they are buying for their children. Nevertheless, even on shelves, not everything is as it seems.
- Never rely on appearances
- Choose name-brand products whenever possible
- Check the packaging for warnings and ingredients
- Use extra caution when shopping online
- Don’t allow your child to put toys in their mouth
Before you begin your holiday shopping, you may also want to investigate the annual Trouble in Toyland report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
The organization recommends using a toilet paper roll to test for choking hazards. If a small part can fit in the tube, it can likely fit down your child’s throat and block their airway. You should also test toys to make sure small parts won’t fall off during play.
PIRG also alerts parents to the risks of loud noises, toys intended for teens or adults, “smart toys” with cybersecurity hazards, and toxic toys and costume jewelry.
Other consumer groups release additional reports, like this one, alerting shoppers to the 10 “worst” toys of 2019.
When you are considering whether or not a toy will be appropriate for your child, you can use the following checklist to confirm its safety:
- No choking hazards
- No risk of strangulation
- No sharp points or edges
- No loud noises
- No long cords or strings
- No dangerous chemicals
- Instructions on the package are the same as instructions inside
- No electrical components, nor extreme heat (like toy ovens)
- No obvious danger (like toy automobiles)
With the increase of video games, “smart toys,” and other forms of entertainment, you should also be wary of whether or not the gifts you are buying for your children promote violence.
What If My Child Is Harmed by a Defective Product?
Despite your best efforts, a dangerous product might end up in your shopping cart. If your child is injured by a defective product, you have a right to pursue legal help.
Our team at Pete Olson Injury Attorneys handles instances of child injury and defective products. We can get to the bottom of your child’s ailment and hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for putting unsafe toys on the market.
While we wish having all the information would be enough to keep your child safe, we understand that hazardous toys and games sometimes slip through the cracks.
If consumer protections failed to keep you safe, our firm can help you move forward.
Call us at (931) 286-7773 today and schedule a free consultation.