The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has both good news and bad news for parents and caregivers regarding children’s toys, along with tips to help keep the holiday season incident-free for their children.
The good news is that there has been a dramatic decline in toy recalls since 2008, down from 172 recalls that year to 44 in fiscal year 2010. Toy recalls related to lead in 2010 were down to 3, far fewer than the 19 recorded in 2008.
In addition to a decline in recalls, toy-related fatalities decreased in 2009. A new report shows that for 2009 the CPSC received reports of 12 deaths to children under the age of 15, which is down from 24 toy-related fatalities in 2007 and 2008.
The bad news is that toy-related injuries are increasing. In 2009, there were an estimated 186,000 emergency room-treated injuries related to toys with children younger than 15, which is up from 152,000 injuries in 2005. Frequently these injuries involved lacerations, contusions, and abrasions that most often occurred to a child’s face and head. Importantly many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy.
The CPSC is encouraging consumers to adopt a three-pronged safety approach:
1) Which toy for which child – Always choose age appropriate toys.
2) Gear up for safety – Include safety gear whenever shopping for sports-related gifts or ride-on toys, including bicycles, skates, and scooters.
3) Location, location, location – Be aware of your child’s surroundings during play. Young children should avoid playing with ride-on toys near automobile traffic, pools or ponds. They also should avoid playing in indoor areas associated with hazards such as kitchens and bathrooms and in rooms with corded window blinds.
Some additional safety steps for consumers to take while shopping this holiday season:
1) Scooters and other Riding Toys – Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.
2) Small Balls and other Toys with Small Parts – For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
3) Balloons – Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard broken balloons at once.
4) Magnets – For children under age six, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
Once the gifts are open:
1) Immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous play things.
2) Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
3) Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. 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.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054. Consumers can obtain recall and general safety information by logging on to CPSC’s Web site at www.cpsc.gov .