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Toy safety: Important information for Santa’s helpers
December 06, 2012

BBB helps parents choose safe, suitable toys this holiday season 

Back in the day, lawn darts were the height of toy fashion. Now, parents gasp at the idea of giving their children a flying projectile with a sharp metal point. Safety has become paramount to both toy manufacturers and law makers.

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, Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to ensure that the toys you give are safe.

  • Find out which toys have been recalled. Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.recalls.gov. If the toy or product has been recalled, check the guidelines for what to do next.
     
  • Make sure the toy is age-appropriate. 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. Read and follow the age recommendation listed on the package or toy.
  • Read labels. Look for age recommendations, such as “Not recommended for children under 3,” and for other safety labels including “Flame retardant” or “Flame resistant” on fabric products.
  • Be cautious of older toys or hand-me-downs. 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.
  • Be careful when shopping online. Internet toy vendors may not be as vigilant as brick and mortar stores about pulling recalled products off the shelf or flagging bar codes.

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 play things.
  • 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.

Toy Recall Hotlines:

  • Consumer Products Safety Commission: (800)638-2772
  • Toy Industry Association: (888) 888-4TOYS