For parents, and anyone else who purchases toys for someone this holiday season, it's important to make sure that those toys under the tree are safe. Unfortunately, many toys sold at some of the nation's largest retailers and discount stores do not meet safety standards, yet they are sold anyway - putting children at risk of injury and leaving parents wishing they had looked a bit closer beforehand.
Here's some advice from two industry leaders when it comes to identifying dangerous toys - the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which continually monitors dangerous toys and keeps a list of all recalled toys on its website, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which warns anyone who purchases toys to make sure that they meet safety standards and are age appropriate for the user. Buyers can do this by being aware of:
- Choking hazards. According to the BBB, it's important to watch for small removable parts that might pose a choking hazard, such as beads, bead kits and stuffed animal parts like the eyes, nose and mouth. Make sure that the former are not purchased for toddlers and that the latter are firmly attached.
Aside from choking hazards from small pieces, the CPSC also advises consumers to check toys and other children's products for plastic film coverings and remove them, as the film can also be a choking hazard.
- Sharp edges. The BBB advises buyers to look for sharp edges on toys that can scratch or moving parts that could pinch small fingers. Although it's a simple tip that can help avoid injury, it is commonly overlooked.
- Cords / strings. Both groups say to avoid toys that have long cords or strings that can strangle infants and small children if they become wrapped around the child's neck. This is especially true when it comes to hanging toys with cords or strings in cribs or playpens or anytime that you're not present to monitor the child.
- Magnets. The CPSC warns that the small magnets found in many toys, but mostly in building sets, can kill a child if two or more are swallowed or can cause serious intestinal injuries.
- Suffocation. The CPSC advises that uninflated toy balloons and pieces of broken balloons should be kept away from young children, as they can be a suffocation danger to kids.
The BBB also reminds toy buyers to look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listing when choosing electronic toys. Read labels carefully. Make sure fabric products are flame resistant. Avoid letting kids put caps for toy guns in their pockets, as they can ignite, and make sure flying objects have protective tips on them. The CPSC also warns buyers to be selective when purchasing electric toys, follow age recommendations on packages, make sure the child is mature enough to operate the toy and supervise the toy's use.
What to Do If Your Child Has Been Injured
If your child has been injured due to a defective or dangerous toy, contact an experienced product liability injury attorney to discuss your situation. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, emotional and physical pain and suffering, lost income and more. Toy manufacturers, toy sellers and toy distributors can be held liable when products are defectively designed or manufactured, or when they fail to warn consumers about known defects or dangers that can cause injury.