Toy safety guidelines may be stricter than ever; however, over 226,000 children were still treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). That’s approximately one child in the ER every three minutes.
At a time when children are spending more time playing at home and parents may busy working remotely, those numbers could very well rise in 2020 and into 2021.
If you are shopping for children this holiday season, choosing safe toys is more important than ever.
Online Shopping & Toy Safety Risks
As we discussed in Part 1 of our Holiday Toy Safety Guide, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on toy safety. That’s due to a number of factors, including explosive growth in online shopping.
According to recent reports from Adobe Analytics, the pandemic has pushed shoppers online in record-breaking ways:
- Consumers spent a record-breaking $9 billion online on Black Friday, a nearly 22% increase over last year.
- This year’s Cyber Monday was the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, with consumers spending $10.8 billion online in a single day.
Unfortunately, an increase in online shopping has also magnified toy safety risks. Some of the biggest problems include:
- Unreputable retailers: Many less-than-reputable retailers looking to cash in on increased demand have flooded online markets with fake toys and toys that have been recalled, inadequately inspected or fail to meet safety regulations.
- Sight unseen: Consumers shopping online are not able to inspect toys at the time of purchase, which can increase risks for buying unsafe toys, especially if products are used or second-hand.
- Unaware consumers: Some parents or caregivers may be unaware of toy recalls. Even if a product is recalled and pulled from shelves in big box stores, it may still be available online through sites like Craigslist, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace.
Trouble in Toyland
Parents and gift-givers may face a minefield of risks when it comes to purchasing toys this year, but there are many helpful resources available.
The U.S. PIRG’s annual Trouble in Toyland report, for example, breaks down different types of dangerous toys and explains how parents and caregivers can keep their kids safe. Some of the top hazards include:
- Recalled Toys: Thousands of toys are recalled in the U.S. every year, but many still find their way into second-hand stores and online marketplaces. This year’s most dangerous recalled toys include a promotional Aflac Doctor Duck that contained lead, a Little Helper’s Children’s Grocery Shopping Cart, and a Fisher-price Barbie Dream Camper.
- Toys with Small Parts: Choking hazards are among the most significant hazards posed by toys with small parts, which include anything roughly 2.25 inches long by 1.25 inches wide, according to the CPSC. Entire toys, game pieces, or toy fragments may fall under the category of “small parts.”
- Balloons: Balloons are exempt from the small parts warning, but must be labeled as choking hazards for children under 8, who may choke on broken or uninflated balloons.
- Magnets: Toys containing magnets can pose serious risks to children. When ingested, magnets can link together in the digestive tract and cause severe injuries or even death.
- Flocked Animals: Calico Critters flocked toys and accessories are labeled for children age 3 and older, but they can be deadly to younger kids. In fact, the toys have been implicated in one death and several injuries across the country.
The W.A.T.C.H. “10 Worst Toys” list is another resource to help parents avoid the most dangerous children’s toys this holiday season. These include:
- Calico Critters Nursery Friends (choking hazards)
- Go! Launch Missile Launcher (eye and facial injuries)
- Avengers Power FX Claws (eye and facial injuries)
- Jellycat plush owl (ingestion / aspiration injuries)
- WWE Jump Superstar Fists (blunt force / impact injuries)
- Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime (chemical-related injuries)
- The Original Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO (cutting injuries)
Safety Tips for Parents & Caregivers
- Check for recalls: When shopping for toys, especially online or at garage sales / second-hand stores, do a quick check using saferproducts.gov to see if a toy has been recalled.
- Check the labels: Check labels of any toys purchased for or given to your child. Remember, age restriction labels don’t just mean the toy will be appropriate and safe for your child. Every child is different, so use your judgment based on a toy’s specific risks.
- Avoid toxic substances: Avoid toys or non-toy products that contain chemicals that can be toxic and harmful to your child’s development. Toxic substances include lead (found in batteries and plastics), boron (found in some slime toys), chromium and phthalates.
- Noisy toys: Children’s toys often make noise, but if they are too loud, they can damage a child’s hearing, whether they’re used during a short period of time or over an extended period. Check your toys to ensure they aren’t too loud for your kids.
- Supervision: Supervision will always be vital to keeping kids safe. Be sure you read and explain directions for how to use and care for toys to your child, and make sure there’s an adult to keep an eye on children whenever they’re playing with toys.
The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., hopes you and your loved ones stay safe this holiday season. As a law firm that focuses on fighting for the injured, we routinely handle cases involving child injuries and defective products. To discuss a potential case anywhere in New York City or the state of New York, contact us for a FREE consultation.