The Nerf Ultra One gun shoots soft darts up to 120 feet—with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries. Nickelodeon’s Frozen Treats Slime warns that the goo is made of harmful chemicals—while offering varieties scented with such flavors as mint chocolate chip and berry smoothie, which critics warn could entice small children to try and eat them. A sort, cuddly Yeti teddy bear contains fiber-like hair that can be pulled out with a minimum of effort, potentially leading to “ingestion or aspiration issues.”
These three items made the 2019 “10 Worst Toy” list released annually by World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.), a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about dangerous children’s products and preventing unnecessary injuries and deaths.
December—the biggest gift-giving month of the year in the United States and in the world—is also the time to participate in Safe Toys and Gifts Month. If you are buying gifts for young people in your life, make sure to inspect the toys before you buy them. Avoid toys with sharp edges, lots of little parts, or parts that can be easily pulled off. Do not give toys with ropes or cords that potentially can cause choking, or toys that can heat up and cause burns or worse. Avoid crayons and markers unless they are labeled nontoxic.
Make sure to match the age and skill level marked on the toy with the age and skill level of the child who will receive the gift. And look for a label for ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) that proves it’s up to standard.
Safe-toy advocates and their supporters in Congress have been fighting the toy industry to pass legislative improvements for decades. In 2008, after a record-breaking series of toy recalls—with millions of units of lead-laden brand-name iconic toys such as Thomas the Tank Engine—Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which gave the CPSC the power to rush recalls, hold toy manufacturers more accountable, and ban specific toxic chemicals in children’s products. The new CPSIA standards reduced allowable levels of lead and phthalates, and led to bans on small powerful magnets. Toy recalls, which had been trending upward, began to decline after the legislation.
Still, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 250,000 toy-related injuries are treated annually by hospital emergency rooms around the United States.
Who doesn’t love to watch a child unwrap a gift and then watch the look of wonder and excitement spread across their face? Just make sure to keep safety in mind before purchasing, so the holidays don’t turn from the happiest time of the year to the scariest!
LaMarche Safranko Law is headquartered in Albany, New York, and represents clients in personal injury cases throughout New York state. Call us at (518) 982-0770 or contact us for a no-obligation consultation.