At this time of year, it’s likely that children are dreaming of toys and not sugar plums. Gifts and toys should inspire joy, not injuries. The best toy gifts are fun and provide enjoyment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
In 2017, the latest statistics available, there were 251,700 estimated emergency department-treated injuries associated with toys. World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH) reports one child is treated in U.S. emergency rooms every three minutes for a toy-related injury.
For 47 years, WATCH has released its nominations for the 10 worst toys this holiday season. Highlighted this year were projectile toys that could fire with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries and toys that encourage children to jump or ride with the potential for head injuries. See this year’s list at toysafety.org.
Gifts and Toys Should Inspire Joy, Not Injuries
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offer these tips to consider when gifting toys:
- Toys are age-rated for safety, not for children’s intellect and physical ability, so be sure to choose toys in the correct age range
- Choose toys for children under 3 that do not have small parts, which could be choking hazards
- For children under 10, avoid toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet
- Be cautious about toys that have button batteries or magnets, which can be harmful or fatal if swallowed
- When giving scooters and other riding toys, give the gift of appropriate safety gear, too; helmets should always be worn, and they should be sized to fit.
Also be sure to consider supervision. Just because a toy is labeled with age-appropriate guidelines does not mean children should not be supervised when playing with it. Children are inventive and may come up with uses other than those intended and without supervision, and injuries may occur.
In addition to poor supervision, toy-related injuries can originate from toys sold with flaws or defective parts. Possible injury from toys include:
- Lacerations or cuts from sharp edges
- Strangulation from cords, laces or straps
- Choking from small pieces or parts
- Hearing impairments from loud toys
- Suffocation due to improper use
Toys can also be recalled, so it is important to keep up with safety recalls. With internet shopping expected to account for 59% of holiday spending based on a holiday survey by Deloitte, shoppers need to know safety hazards to watch out for when making online purchases. E-shoppers should beware of recalled toys or toys with deadly track records, whether making retail or consumer-to-consumer purchases.
Learn more about product recalls at safekids.org/product-recalls. Safe Kids compiles product recalls specific to children and sends twice-monthly e-mail alerts for recent recalls. Information is also available at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
There is some good news in toy safety. According to the CPSC, many toys are being rejected at the ports before even getting to the market. In 2008, 172 toys were rejected at the port, 19 of them because of use of lead. In 2018, 18 toys were rejected, two because of lead.
A new CPSC global system to make toys safer means:
- Toys are now tested by independent, third-party testing laboratories around the world
- CPSC and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are at the ports, stopping toys that violate U.S. standards before they reach children’s hands.
Enjoy this season of giving and the joy that toys bring by preventing toy-related injuries. If toys have caused harm because they’re unsafe, seek advice from attorneys experienced in personal injury.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- Attorney Jeffrey Rice, of Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz, emphasizes his practice on commercial and construction law, construction lien cases and real-estate law. He has been named one of Florida’s “Super Lawyers” annually since 2006.