Most parents know what toys are safe for their kids. Most know whether a toy can be a choking hazard or whether it’s so loud it can damage a child’s hearing. Yet, despite what most parents know, children were the victims of 235,300 toy-related injuries in the U.S. in 2008. More than 82,000 of those were younger than 5. Nineteen children younger than 15 died. Clearly toy safety needs to be considered as adults head out to shop this holiday season.
Most parents know what toys are safe for their kids. Most know whether a toy can be a choking hazard or whether it’s so loud it can damage a child’s hearing.
Yet, despite what most parents know, children were the victims of 235,300 toy-related injuries in the U.S. in 2008. More than 82,000 of those were younger than 5. Nineteen children younger than 15 died.
Clearly toy safety needs to be considered as adults head out to shop this holiday season.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group helps with its annual “Trouble in Toyland” reports. To further help toy shoppers, PIRG has launched a Web site, toysafety.mobi, so you can check out how safe a toy is by using your cell phone.
“These guides are intended as a resource to help parents make informed choices as they shop for their children,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a mother of two young girls.
PIRG’s 24th annual report includes disturbing statistics.
Despite a ban on small parts in toys for children under 3, there are still toys available that pose serious choking hazards. Between 1990 and 2008, at least 196 children died after choking or asphyxiating on a toy or toy part; three died in 2008.
Many toys tested exceed 85 decibels sound level, which is higher than the highest volume level recommended by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Almost 15 percent of children age 6 to 17 show signs of hearing loss.
Earlier this year, toys and other children’s products containing more than 0.1 percent of phthalates were banned. Still, Illinois PIRG found children’s products that contained concentrations of phthalates up to 7.2 percent. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics softer and are used in raincoats, lunch boxes and bath toys.
Lead was severely restricted in toys earlier this year, but Illinois PIRG researchers found lead-laced toys on store shelves. Lead has negative health effects on almost every organ and system in the human body.
“Many of the defects in these products only became evident after incidents that caused injury and, in some cases, death — or after extensive testing that revealed a problem, such as dangerously high levels of lead,” Madigan said.
“By sharing knowledge that a particular stroller has a dangerous design flaw that has seriously injured children or that a favorite toy contains high levels of lead, these guides empower parents and allow them to make informed decisions about how to protect their children.”
The good news is that most toys are safe. Parents should take advantage of tools that help them determine what’s right for their children.
Rockford Register Star
Toy safety tips
Keep costume/novelty jewelry away from young children.
You can screen a piece of jewelry or toy for lead using a home lead tester available at the hardware store. (This is a screening method, and should not be relied upon as a definitive test.)
Check recalls.gov for recalled toys.
Avoid plastic toys labeled as “PVC.” They often contains phthalate softeners.
Look for toys labeled “phthalate-free.”
Choose cloth or unpainted wooden toys instead of soft plastic toys.
Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene, toluene or phthalates.
Avoid plastic bath toys or bath books.
Avoid small toys or parts of toys that can fit entirely into a toilet paper tube.
Avoid small balls and round objects. Balls should be at least 1.75 inches in diameter for children under 3.
Avoid cylindrical pieces of toys that can lodge in a child’s airway.
Balloons and pieces of balloon can completely block a child’s airway. Never give balloons to children under 8. Mylar balloons are a safer alternative.
Avoid hand-me-down hazards — keep toys for older kids away from young children.
If a toy seems too loud for your ears, it is probably too loud for a child. Don’t buy it.
Toys used close to the ear (like toy cell phones) should not be louder than 65 decibels, measured from 10 inches away.
Other toys should not be louder than 85 decibels measured from 10 inches away.
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group