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Will Toys Be Safer This Holiday Season?

Have you started your holiday shopping yet? If toys are on your list, this post shares important toy safety information and valuable tips for parents this holiday season.

First, the good news—improved toy safety.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stronger federal rules are making a positive impact on toy safety.

New toy safeguards include:

  • Establishing the lowest lead content and lead paint limits in the world;
  • Setting a stringent limit on the use of certain phthalates;
  • Converting the voluntary toy standards into mandatory standards;
  • Requiring third party testing and certification of toys designed or intended primarily for children 12 and younger;
  • Closing in on new limits for cadmium in toys; and
  • Working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to track shipments in transit from other countries, thereby increasing seizure of dangerous imported toys.

These safeguards, along with safety-conscious steps taken by many toy makers and sellers, have contributed to a continued decline in toy recalls since 2008. There were 34 toy recalls in fiscal year 2011. This is down from 46 toy recalls in fiscal year 2010, 50 recalls in 2009, and 172 recalls in 2008.

The bad news—Toys still lead to tragic accidents.

Toy-related deaths to children younger than 15 increased to 17 fatalities reported in 2010, up from 15 reported in 2009. Nearly half of these toy-related fatalities were attributed to choking on balloons, small balls, and rubber balls.

A new report released by CPSC notes that about 181,500 children younger than 15 years of age were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments due to toy-related injuries in 2010.

Non-motorized scooters continued to be the category of toys associated with the most injuries. Frequently these injuries involved lacerations, contusions, and abrasions to the child’s face and head. Importantly many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy.

Shopping Tips for Toys

Here are some safety steps that consumers can take while shopping this holiday season:

  • Balloons – Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old. Discard broken balloons at once.
  • Small balls and other toys with small parts – For children younger than age 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
  • Scooters and other riding toys – Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times, and they should be sized to fit.
  • Magnets – For children under age 6, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.