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Tips for Toy Safety

tips-for-toy-safety

Tis the time of year when advertisements for toys seem to be everywhere you turn. The good news is that all toys sold in the U.S. must meet safety standards. The bad news is that occasionally an unsafe toy slips through the process and ends up on a store shelf or for purchase online.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 149,000 children aged 14 and younger go to an emergency room each year because of toy-related injuries or illnesses. The threats to children include recalled toys, counterfeit toys that don't meet U.S. safety standards, and failure to heed warning labels.

Here are tips for toy safety from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund:

  • Carefully check toys, both when they're new and every so often to see whether there's wear and tear. In particular, look for any toy parts that are loose or could easily break off and be swallowed or cut a child.
  • When a child gets a new toy, and periodically after that, check whether the toy has been recalled or has led to complaints by going to saferproducts.gov.
  • Evaluate whether particular toys are appropriate, starting with the minimum age warning label. Consider whether a child can keep the toy out of reach of any younger children.
  • Be leery of toys from unfamiliar sellers or international sellers as they may be more likely to sell counterfeit toys or toys that don't meet U.S. safety standards.
  • When researching a toy, check whether the manufacturer has its own official website. If there is a website, pay attention to red flags like typos, spelling mistakes, and poorly photoshopped pictures in the product's online description.
  • Research reviews of a toy. Pay attention to negative reviews or if there aren't many reviews at all, which could suggest a problem.
  • Look for labeling on toys that say they're non-toxic.
  • Make sure that anything that's electric says it's UL-approved.
  • Look for toys made after 2008 when the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which set stronger requirements for toys, took effect.
  • Report incidents involving toys to the Consumer Product Safety Commission at saferproducts.gov.

While the above are general tips, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund's annual Trouble in Toyland report also contains specific toy safety tips for younger children including keeping children under 18 months away from toys with strings, straps, or cords longer than 12 inches; keeping small balls, blocks and toys with small parts out of reach from children younger than 3; and, making sure the compartments of batteries, especially button batteries, are secure and can't be opened. In addition, the report contains tips for older children and children who are into techy toys, such as searching the manufacturer online to see if there are news reports or government actions against it for violating privacy standards.

Whether you have a child or are purchasing toys for children, we encourage you to check out the Trouble in Toyland report.


Written by: Teresa Murray is the Consumer Watchdog for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.
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Friday, 24 May 2024

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