The week after Christmas is always a fun week for children: they get to play with their toys and enjoy the fruits of all of their parents’ hard work. Naturally, all parents only want their children to play with toys that are safe. Nationwide, parents rely both on toy manufacturers to place safe products for children on the market, as well as federal laws such as the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Child Safety Protection Act, to police hazards such as the use of lead paint and choking risks.
However, issues with toys, like toys containing lead paint, as well as toys posing choking hazards, burn hazards, and intestinal blockage, among other risks, continue to surface. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the body that enforces safety violation standards, but budget cuts resulting in employee reductions have left toy screening in an understaffed, precarious position.
So where does that leave parents? What can you do to prevent your child from suffering a toy injury? While nothing in life is guaranteed and accidents happen in even the most careful of families, steps can be taken to prevent children from getting injured as a result of hazardous toys. First, visually inspect all toys you purchase for your children to determine if the toy presents any obvious hazard: are there sharp edges? Could your child choke on the product? Is the toy age-appropriate? Can any parts possibly detach and present a choking or strangulation hazard? Have you read the directions to ensure you are using the toy as intended?
Next, follow recalls. You can visit www.safekids.org to sign up for a comprehensive list of monthly child-related recalls collected from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Recalls don’t expire, so www.safekids.org encourages parents to check the recalls regularly, especially to check on hand-me-downs or used children’s products.
Finally, the toy safety watchdog World Against Toys Causing Harm, or W.A.T.C.H., recently released its annual list of the 10 worst toys of 2015. Although Christmas is over, avoid the following specific toys going forward:
- Skipit’s Wheely Cute Pull Along. The hubcap on the wheels of this fluffy pull toy can break off, posing a choking hazard.
- Foam Dart Gun. The gun looks eerily similar to a real gun. W.A.T.C.H. states that regulations preventing realistic toy gun designs are “inadequate.”
- Small Trampoline. Trampolines are dangerous and shouldn’t be sold as a playtime activity for young children.
- Poo-Dough. This toy is a play-dough like product that looks like, well, poo. Although there are obvious reasons why this may be the worst toy, safety-wise, W.A.T.C.H. included it on its list due to it containing wheat, which is noted on the throwaway packaging. Wheat is a potentially harmful allergen for certain children.
- Smack Shot. This slingshot toy is so high-powered that it can potentially damage little eyes. While it boasts of firing rubber ammunition “up to 100 ft,” W.A.T.C.H. sees the potential for serious injuries.
- Kick Flipper. This toy is packaged as a skateboard without wheels. However clever its marketing, though, W.A.T.C.H. warns that it poses head and impact injury potential. While the packaging warns children to not use it on stairs, hills, or inclines, the packaging inexplicably does not also recommend children wear helmets.
- Leonardo’s Electronic Stealth Sword. This rigid, plastic 4-years-and-up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sword can potentially cause blunt force injuries. To add insult to injury, the packaging encourages children to play “Ninja Battle.”
- Doctor Play Set. This doctor play set contains small toys that could potentially be ingested and are a choking hazard. For example, children could choke on the thin plastic tongue depressor, which is 4 and ¾ inches long, as the packaging encourages children to place these objects in their mouths.
- Pull Along Zebra. This pull-along zebra toy poses the risk of strangulation due to a 21-inch cord, contrary to the industry standard length on playpen and crib toy strings of 12 inches.
- Jurassic World Velociraptor Claws. These big dinosaur claws pose the potential for eye and facial injuries, and the packaging does not warn against same.
Of course, if the unthinkable happens, and your child chokes on, or otherwise suffers an injury from a defective toy, call 911 immediately. If your child ends up suffering an injury from a defective toy, one may choose to take legal action. Please call the skilled attorneys at Brooks Law Group in the event your family falls victim to a defective toy. We can help determine whether you are entitled to any compensation.