by Texas Christian injury lawyer, Tim O’Hare
Each year, the toy industry generates nearly $26 billion in sales, but toy testing and safety is not always a top priority. And oftentimes, toys that are recalled for a known hazard are still readily available online — particularly concerning because this year, consumers are expected to spend 51 percent of their holiday budget shopping online.
According to the advocacy group, World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.), “Regulations and safety protocols for e-commerce transactions are often nonexistent or inadequate. Consumer-to-consumer “second-hand sales”— which are inconsistently monitored, if monitored at all — provide new opportunities for recalled toys to surface.”
Parents have a reasonable expectation that there are checks and balances to ensure toys purchased for their children are safe, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. One child in the U.S. is treated in the emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury. From 1990 to 2011, we saw a 40 percent increase in toy-related injuries and incidents in the U.S.
In November, W.A.T.C.H. issued its annual list of the most dangerous toys. As you finish up your Christmas shopping, be sure to check out this list of most dangerous toys of 2017. You may even find one or two your children already have in the home.
- Hallmark “Itty Bittys” Baby Stacking Toy — This plush, Disney-themed stacking toy was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in August due to “fabric hats and bows that can detach, posing a choking hazard.”
- Tolo Pull Along Pony — Marketed for children 12m+, the pull cord on this toy measures approximately 19-inches, posing a risk for strangulation and entanglement injuries.
- Mattel Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword — This rigid plastic sword has the potential to cause blunt force injuries to the face or other parts of the body. The toy also contains a warning that “small parts may be generated” along with battery safety warnings.
- Fidget Spinners — This popular novelty toy can be found in nearly every store across America, yet it also poses a danger to children. Fidget spinners contain small parts that may detach, causing a choking hazard.
- Marvel Spider-Man Spider Drone Official Movie Edition — According to the warning label on the package, the “Drone has rotating blades that move at high speed, posing danger of injury. Keep spinning rotors away from fingers, hair, eyes and other body parts.”
- Hasbro Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt Crossbow — The force of launching an arrow from the crossbow presents the potential for eye and facial injuries. The product packaging cautions users not to “aim or shoot at eyes or face of people or animals,” among other warnings.
- Brand 44 Slackers Slackline Classic Series Kit — This tightrope-like device is intended to be anchored between two trees. The manufacturer warns of strangulation risk, as well as potential for “serious injury or even death.”
- Plan Toys Inc. Oval Xylophone — This colored musical toy marketed for children as young as 12 months includes manufacturer warnings, despite the fact the 9.5-inch long drumstick handle has the potential to block a child’s airway if inserted in the mouth.
- Razor USA Jetts Heel Wheels — Made to be strapped to the heels of the shoe, transforming a regular shoe into a roller skate, this product advertises “real sparking” action and comes with numerous warnings including keeping sparks away from eyes, hair, exposed skin and clothing.
- Melissa & Doug Brianna Babydoll — “Huggable, soft” dolls marketed for children as young as 18 months has removable clothing and ponytail holders, which present the potential for ingesting and choking.
When shopping for your children this holiday season, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) recommends W.A.T.C.H.ing out for toys with these potential hazards:
Choking — The most common cause of toy-related deaths is choking. Do not buy toys with small parts for children under three. If a toy or toy part can pass through a toilet paper tube, it is too small for a child under three. Small balls and balloons also pose significant hazard to small children. Balls for children under six years of age must be 1.75 inches in diameter. Latex balls and balloons should never be given to children under 8 years old.
Magnets — Several toys, including building toys, darts and toy jewelry use small, powerful magnets. If swallowed, these magnets can attract each other in the body, causing life-threatening complications. If a child swallows a magnet, seek immediate medical attention.
Strangulation — Toys and clothes with cords or drawstrings are a strangulation hazard for children. Infant crib mobiles should be removed from the crib before the baby is 5 months old or can push him/herself up. Knobs or beads at the end of cords longer than one foot should be removed. Drawstrings on clothing can get caught in objects, such as playground equipment, potentially strangling a child.
Toxic chemicals — Toys containing lead and other toxic chemicals should be avoided. Toys made of PVC plastic may contain toxic phthalates, which pose developmental hazards to children. Lead may also be found in painted toys, vinyl toys and even costume jewelry. A home lead tester, found at a hardware store, can be used to test toys for lead. Avoid products containing xylene, toluene or dibutyl phthalate.
If you think a toy or product is hazardous, report it to the Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.saferproducts.gov.
Parents can check toy recalls at www.recalls.gov.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a dangerous product, contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare. We will help you receive all due compensation for your injury or loss.
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