We are now in the thick of the holiday shopping season, and the California Public Interest Research Group has released its “Trouble in Toyland 2023” report, telling us which dangerous toys should be avoided this Christmas.
The report provides details on the toys being sold that have the potential to be dangerous to consumers. This year’s report particularly zeroes in on toys that invade children’s privacy and put them in serious danger of becoming victims of a crime.
The report talks about the following toys that could threaten children’s health and safety:
Water Beads: These are often used as sensory toys at bath time, but these tiny balls can become deadly if they are ingested. While these beads may look harmless and look almost like candy, they can be lethal when young children put them in their mouths. It could lead to choking, internal injuries, or even death if left undetected.
These beads absorb water because they can grow about 100 times when exposed to water. Between 2016 and 2022, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were 7,800 water bead injuries treated in emergency departments across the country. The CPSC is aware of at least one death because of these dangerous toys.
Dangerous Toys Online: The report also warns consumers about the ongoing risk posed by online retailers that continue to sell recalled toys in violation of federal law. If you are buying your child’s toys online, it would be in your best interest to first check if those toys were recalled on CPSC’s website before purchasing them.
Choking Hazards: Button batteries, high-powered magnets, and other counterfeit toys pose serious choking hazards, particularly to young children. The report added that inadequate warning labels make these products even more dangerous.
Focus on Toys That Put Kids in Danger
This year’s report is taking a closer look at so-called “smart toys” that have the potential to put children in real danger. For example, some of the toys may look harmless, such as the CogniToys Dino, a Wi-Fi-enabled smart toy for children 5 to 7 years old. However, the group points out that this “smart” dinosaur collects your child’s name, birthday, gender, and address, as well as payment information and other sensitive data. Safety advocates warn that this could put your child in physical danger and expose families to data breaches.
Even toys such as the Amazmic Kids Karaoke Bluetooth microphone are labeled as a serious privacy risk by CALPIRG. Researchers found that this toy could allow anyone to listen to and talk with children from outside their homes. The group is also warning parents about the Meta Quest Virtual Reality headset for children whose technology “is too new for us to trust our children with.”
How Can Parents Protect Children from Dangerous Toys?
Parents play a critical role in ensuring their children’s safety, especially when it comes to the toys they play with. Protecting children from dangerous toys involves a combination of vigilance, research, and proactive measures. Here are some ways in which you can protect your children from dangerous toys.
- Do your research and be aware. Parents should stay informed about toy recalls, safety alerts, and product reviews. Utilize resources like consumer protection websites, government agencies, and reputable parenting forums to stay updated on toy safety information.
- Choose age-appropriate toys. Always buy toys that are appropriate for your child’s age and developmental stage. Toys labeled with age recommendations take safety standards and potential hazards into consideration. Be cautious about toys with small parts or sharp edges for younger children as they can pose choking or injury risks.
- Check for safety labels and certifications. Look for safety labels such as ASTM International, or the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) mark, which indicate that the toy complies with safety regulations.
- Inspect toys regularly. Routinely examine toys for wear and tear, loose parts, or damage. Discard or repair damaged toys immediately to prevent potential hazards.
- Avoid toxic materials. Be mindful of toxic substances in toys, especially those imported from uncertified sources. Check for information about the materials used in the toy’s construction, ensuring they are non-toxic and safe for children.
- Supervision and education. Supervise young children during playtime, especially with new toys, to make sure they use them appropriately. Educate children about toy safety, teach them how to handle toys responsibly, and report any damage or concerns.
- Store toys safely. Organize and store toys in a safe and accessible manner, keeping small parts out of reach of younger children to prevent choking hazards.
If Your Child Has Been Injured by a Defective Toy
If your child has been injured by a defective toy, make sure you get prompt medical attention. Preserve critical evidence, including the toy and any packaging, receipts, or documents related to the purchase. These can serve as crucial evidence if legal action or reporting is necessary. Contact the manufacturer or retailer to report the defective toy. Additionally, inform the CPSC about the defective toy. Reporting helps prevent further incidents and recalls of unsafe products.
Take photos of the toy, the injury, and any other relevant details. Maintain records of medical treatment, including doctor visits, prescriptions, and medical bills. Seek the counsel of a personal injury lawyer experienced in product liability cases who can guide you on your legal options and help pursue compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.