A report recently released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated there were 193,200 toy-related injuries to children younger than 15 years of age in 2011. Of those estimated injuries, approximately 44 percent were categorized as lacerations, contusions, or abrasions of some kind. When it comes to toy-related injuries, the head and face area is the most commonly affected area of the body.
If your shopping list includes the names of a few good boys or girls, the Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to ensure that the toys you give are safe.
Toy safety isn't only about avoiding recalled products; you also need to make sure you’re buying appropriate toys for the age of the child.
Hand-me-downs and used toys can be dangerous. While buying a gently used toy might be cost effective, they may not meet current safety standards and could be too worn from play that they break and become hazardous.
Internet toy vendors may not be as vigilant as brick and mortar stores about pulling recalled products off the shelf or flagging bar codes.
The Toy Industry Association offers these toy safety tips:
- Check and follow age guidance and other safety information on toy and game packaging. Remember, the age grading doesn’t pertain to how smart a child is – it’s a safety precaution that is based on the developmental skills and abilities of children at a given age.
- Avoid toys with small parts when shopping for children under age three (3) and children who mouth toys.
- Inspect toys at the store, looking for sturdy parts and tightly secured joints.
- Make sure that batteries in toys are firmly enclosed and inaccessible to children.
- For children under 18 months of age, avoid toys with strings, straps or cords longer than twelve (12) inches.
- Check to see that plush (stuffed) toys have age-appropriate features such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play.
- Avoid toys with sharp points or rough edges, especially for younger children.
- Listen to toys with noises before purchasing them to make sure they are appropriate for your child.
- Always shop at a reputable retailer you know and trust – but if you’re purchasing second-hand toys, inspect their condition and make sure you have the original packaging and instructions.
Before buying, find out which toys have been recalled. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. If the toy or product has been recalled, check the guidelines for what to do next.
Toy Recall Hotlines
Consumer Products Safety Commission: (800)638-2772
Toy Industry Association: (888) 888-4TOYS
Besides knowing how to purchase toys that are safe, it’s important to be aware of safety hazards once the toys have been opened. Once toys are opened, CPSC suggests you:
- Immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before they become dangerous playthings.
- Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
- Supervise all battery charging. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.