In This Season of Recalls, Toy Shoppers Need to be Vigilant
With more than 65 percent of the toys bought in the United States between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas, parents and caregivers are heading into the year's busiest toy-buying season.
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But with millions of toys being recalled because of dangerous lead paint and magnets, toy shoppers need to remember that that number is a small fraction of the overall number of toys -- approximately 3 billion -- sold in the United States every year.
Ÿ??Shoppers need to be even more informed than usual to make sure they buy safe, age-appropriate toys, said Chrissy Cianflone, home safety program manager for Safe Kids Worldwide. Ÿ??Even though most toys in the U.S. today are considered to be safe, we still need to be vigilant.Ÿ?
Email alerts keep shoppers up-to-date on recalls
Each year, approximately 217,000 toy-related injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide. But on average, only 15 children under the age of 14, dies from a toy-related injury, most of which are caused by choking on small parts.
To stay informed, Cianflone recommends that parents sign up for emails that will keep them up-to-date on recalls. Ÿ??It's too difficult to get your information piecemeal from TV or the newspaper,Ÿ? said Cianflone, Ÿ??so if you get the emails sent to you each time a recall happens, you'll be up-to-the-minute and won't have to worry.Ÿ?
To sign up for recall emails, go to www.cpsc.gov and click on Sign up for Email Announcements.
Parents and caregivers shouldn't hesitate to report defects or design features that seem dangerous. Ÿ??If your child has a close call, the next child might not be so lucky,Ÿ? says Cianflone. Ÿ??Report safety concerns about toys to the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov . Your experience could be part of a pattern that might lead to a recall.Ÿ?
Avoid second-hand toys
Cianflone minds parents that most toys are safe, but it's best to buy from a reputable retailer. Ÿ??That doesn't mean you have to go to a Ÿ??big box' store, but if you shop a locally-owned toy store, make sure that the owner is aware and vigilant about getting recalled items off the shelves. And avoid used toys, which could have been recalled and not removed from circulation.Ÿ?
Ÿ??If you buy toys secondhand or get hand-me-downs, visit www.cpsc.gov to make sure the toy hasn't been recalled for safety reasons,Ÿ? says Cianflone. Ÿ??If a new toy comes with a product registration card, mail it in right away so the manufacturer can contact you if the item is ever recalled.Ÿ?
Other precautions to take
Safe Kids USA also recommends these precautions:
Ÿ?? Make sure to buy age-appropriate toys. All toys are clearly marked if they have small parts; do not buy toys with small parts (or allow a child under age 3 to play with those kinds of toys belonging to an older sibling).
Ÿ?? Identify dangerous small parts. To be sure of a toy's size, use a small parts tester (available in quantity from the Safe Kids Resource Catalog). If you don't have a small parts tester, you can use an empty toilet paper roll. Do not let small children play with anything that can fit into any of these cylinders.
Ÿ?? Inspect toys to make sure they are in good repair. Do not let young children play with toys that have straps, cords or strings longer than 7 inches, due to the risk of strangulation.
Ÿ?? Actively supervise children . Caregivers should actively supervise children playing with any toy that has small parts, moving parts, electrical or battery power, cords, wheels or any other potentially risky component. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach and paying undivided attention.
Ÿ?? Practice proper storage . Teach children to put toys away after playing, to help prevent falls and unsupervised play, and make sure toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children. Toy chests should be equipped or retrofitted with safety hinges that prevent the lid from closing on a child who is leaning over the open chest; if a chest does not have safety hinges, remove the lid.