RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Toys are a big part of the holiday for children — and parents want to make sure their children get the gifts they want. But they also need to make sure those toys are safe.
As they do every year, the advocacy organization US Public Interest Research Groups has issued its “Trouble in Toyland” report advising people on how to avoid potentially dangerous toys.
The group says parents can use a simple toilet paper tube to protect a toddler from such toys.
The tube is pretty close in size to a child’s esophagus and if a toy can fit into that, it can fit into a child’s esophagus creating a dangerous choking hazard.
Those who deal with childhood injuries say it’s normal for toddlers place items in their mouths.
“They explore the world with their mouths,” said Michell Sterling of St. Joe’s Children’s Hospital in Florida. “They find things we think we’ve lost six months ago.”
Whether shopping in a store or online for toys, parents and adults need to be a “toy” police officer.
“A group of toys that should not be on the market at all are those are recalled toys,” said US PIRG’s Grace Bromberg.
She said her group found a number of toys being sold online that had been recalled for safety reasons.
“Dangerous and hazardous toys continue to slip through the cracks, ” said Bromberg.
The industry trade group, known as The Toy Association, says finding those banned toys is up to parents.
“That is the challenge. In the age which we live, you have to do your homework,” CEO Steve Pasierb told CBS News.
Pasierb said his organization hosts a website that lists recalled toys as well as a safe toy buying guide and toy safety tips
Parents can also see if an item has been recalled by checking the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“There are nefarious sellers all over the world using all the different online marketplaces to sell knockoff and counterfeit goods,” said Pasierb. “They do not follow safety guidelines.”
Other ways to protect a child include:
- Making sure the toy is age appropriate
- Keeping toys for older kids out of the hands of younger children
- Checking the security battery compartments
Many toys use small button batteries which a child can swallow causing life threatening internal burns.
For older kids, parents need be wary of online toys, games or apps.
“A lot of online platforms are collecting children’s personal data and there are significant privacy issues involved,” said Representative Kathy Castor of the U.S. House Consumer Protection Subcommittee.
Every year, the house subcommittee says more than a quarter of a million kids end up in emergency rooms due to dangerous toys. The agency fears those numbers may rise this year because more children are staying inside due to the pandemic.
Click here to read the full report called Trouble in Toyland.
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