Dangerous Toys? 6 Tips to Shop Smart and Avoid Safety Hazards

December 14, 2012

Your children may be asking for the hottest toys this holiday season and as a parent, the last thing you want to put under the Christmas tree is a safety hazard. Over the past four years the Consumer Product Safety Commission has seized more than 8.5 million units of more than 2,400 dangerous toys from entering American ports because of safety hazards. The CPSC works hard to ensure that the toys sitting on store shelves are safe, but that’s not always the case. Here are several ways you can be sure a toy is safe.

Track Recallsrecalled teddy bear

Build-a-Bear teddy bears with choking hazards, Mexican wrestling action figures with high levels of lead and dolls sold at Pottery Barn kids that have strangulation hazards are just three toys to make it on the recall list recently. So far in 2012, the CPSC has recalled 38 toys, three of which had lead violations. There were 34 toy recalls in 2011 and 44 in 2010. While that number is down from 50 recalls in 2009 and 172 recalls in 2008, it still illustrates the fact that there are potentially hazardous products in the marketplace. How will you know if a product you’ve purchased has been recalled for safety reasons? Subscribe to the CPSC’s recall newsletter. Specify which types of products you want to track and they’ll make sure you know when there’s an issue.

Look for the Age Suggestions

A toy becomes even more dangerous if it gets into the hands of a child that’s not old enough to understand it. Keep an eye out for the suggested ages listed on the toy’s packaging and follow these guidelines. When a child plays with an unsuitable toy it can become a hazard. Make sure older siblings understand the importance of keeping their toys away from younger brothers and sisters.

Know What to Toss

Often what is most dangerous about a toy is the packaging it comes in. The CPSC recommends immediately throwing away the plastic wrapping and other waste before they become risky playthings for your little one. And if a toy breaks, throw it away. Small parts don’t mix well with children– especially those under the age of three.

Leave Battery Charging to the Adults

The Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly suggests that parents handle anything involving electricity, including charging batteries. The CPSC says battery chargers have been known to cause thermal burns on young children. It’s best to just avoid this area of danger and leave batteries to the adults.

Avoid Magnetsmagnets

Magnets are not only choking hazards, but they’re risky for children. When two or more magnets are swallowed they can attract internally causing damage to the stomach or intestines which could result in the need for surgery. The CPSC has devoted an entire section of their website to this risk and suggests that parents keep high-powered magnets out of the hands of any child under the age of 14. Even building and play sets that include small magnets should be kept away from toddlers.

Shop Smart

Just because a toy is on a store shelf or on the pages of that holiday catalog doesn’t mean it’s safe. As a parent you likely have good instincts as to whether or not a toy is safe. Trust your gut about whether a toy is a smart buy or not.

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