Keeping Kids Safe - Toy Safety this Holiday Season

With the holidays approaching, how can you ensure that the toys you buy for the little one in your life are safe? Many parents are concerned about all of the latest toy recalls, and Mattel in particular has come under fire for recalls involving millions of toys with high levels of lead or unsafe magnets. As many of the products involved in the recent recalls were manufactured in China, some parents are concerned about the safety of all toys made in China – and parents are even trying to avoid purchasing these toys at all. Any parent who has tried to avoid toys made in China will tell you that it isn’t easy. Over the years, toy manufacturers have moved manufacturing operations to China in order to save money, and today about 80% of all toys in the United States are made in China. Parents determined avoid buying toys that are made in China face a difficult – and more expensive – road. For parents on a budget, it comes down to a choice between buying more less-expensive toys or fewer high-quality toys from reputable sources. Some parents are choosing to avoid plastic toys altogether, only to find that seemingly safer wooden toys still originate in China. But is it even necessary to avoid all toys that have been made in China? The Toy Institute of America (TIA), an trade association for toy producers and importers, says no. According to the TIA, recalls account for less than 1% of the 3 billion toys sold in the US each year, and with all the additional testing going on right now parents should feel safe about purchasing toys from reputable manufacturers and retailers. The TIA also urges parents to avoid staying away from all made in China toys, stating, “Companies make toys, not countries, and companies are responsible for adhering to rigorous safety standards and inspecting their products prior to delivery.” Given this statement, it seems that the real problem is with the manufacturers themselves, and their failure to provide the necessary testing and oversight for foreign-produced toys. Whether in the case of Mattel’s numerous recalls for lead paint or inappropriate magnets in their toys or RC2 Corporation’s recall of the Thomas the Tank Engine toys – it is important to remember that these recalls do account for a very small percentage of all toys sold in the United States. It is possible to buy safe, fun, and affordable toys for your children – even if they have been made outside of the United States. You may be wondering what you can you do right now to keep your kids safe this holiday season. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued the following safe shopping tips:
  • Magnets – For children under age six, avoid building sets with small magnets. If swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
  • Small Parts – For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
  • Ride-on Toys – Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be sized to fit.
  • Projectile Toys – Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.
  • Chargers and Adapters – Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.
Once you have bought your toys, be sure to keep on top of future recalls. Here are some ways to make sure they toys you buy are safe:
  • First and foremost, shop at a retailer you trust. Find a “brick and mortar” toy store with a reputable staff who keep up to date on recalls and stock a variety of toys. Or, find an on-line retailer committed to product safety – one that monitors the safety of the toys it sells and notifies customers if a toy they have purchased is part of a recall.
  • Make sure you check recalls regularly – the easiest way to do this is to join the Recall Notification List at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
  • Whenever possible sign up for notification emails from the toy manufacturer or at the store where the toy was purchased.
  • Fill out warranty cards if provided – companies are required to notify you in case of a recall.
  • If one of your toys is recalled – follow the manufacturer’s instructions for returning or disposing of the toys. Don’t keep toys that have been part of a recall, and don’t donate or give them away – it isn’t fair to a child who may unknowingly received the toy.
  • If your child is in daycare or spends time at a friend or relative’s house, check their toys as well. Don’t take it for granted that the toys your child plays with when they are away from your home are safe.
In addition, keep these general toy safety tips in mind:
  • Pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommended ages for each toy. For example, toys intended for children 3 and up may contain choking hazards and are not suitable for younger children.
  • Regularly examine toys for wear and tear – a child’s much-loved toy may become unsafe after many months or years of play.
  • Regularly clean toys – follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Dispose of toys that are worn – it isn’t worth the risk to keep around a toy that has seen better days.
  • Teach children how to properly use and care for toys – this will cut down on damage to the toy, in addition to ensuring that the toy is used safely as intended.
  • Supervise! Not only will parental supervision help keep kids safe, but you’ll also be bonding with your little one.
Finally, consider shopping early this year. All of the recalls and additional safety inspections are taking their toll on manufacturing lead times, and many popular toys are expected to sell out weeks before the holidays arrive. Look at this as a good thing – all of the increased product testing may be slowing down the flow toy inventory, but our children will be safer this holiday season! The Keane Law Firm cares about your children and is dedicated to keeping kids safe. If you know a child who has been injured by a faulty or unsafe toy, please contact us immediately so we can evaluate your case at absolutely no cost.
The Keane Law Firm 530 Jackson Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, California 94133 Phone: (415) 398-2777 Toll free: (888) 592-KIDS (5437) Fax: (415) 520-2282 E-mail: [email protected]
Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer