Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

Select Safe Toys And Gifts This Holiday Season

December 3rd, 2021

December is a month of multiple religious and cultural celebrations. A tradition common to these celebrations is the giving of gifts to our loved ones, particularly our children. We all want to make our kids happy this holiday season. But before you give them that toy they’ve been asking for, make sure it’s safe. That’s the message of National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has established strict toy safety guidelines that include rigorous testing by independent, third-party laboratories, enforcing rigid lead and phthalate limits for toys, and imposing stringent standards to stop dangerous toys from reaching the marketplace and getting into children’s hands.

In spite of these efforts, thousands of children are injured every year as a result of playing with unsafe toys. A report released by the CPSC revealed that in 2020, there were nine deaths and nearly 150,000 emergency room visits for toy-related injuries in children ages 14 and younger.

Actually, those figures represent an ongoing decline in toy-related incidents compared to the past two years. In 2019, there were 14 toy-related deaths and 224,200 injuries. In 2018, there were 17 deaths and 226,100 injuries treated in US emergency rooms. Fortunately, more than 90 percent of the injured children were treated and released.

The most common toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms included lacerations, contusions and abrasions, strains and sprains, fractures, internal injuries, ingestion of toys or toy parts, concussions, dislocations and puncture injuries. Nonmotorized scooters were associated with several of the reported deaths each year.

The best way to avoid a toy-related injury is to be proactive when selecting toys and gifts for your children. Before you buy, consult a watchdog website, such as, the website of World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.), for a list of recent toy recalls. But not all unsafe toys are recalled, so follow these tips before you purchase a toy:

• Read all instructions and warnings listed on the packaging.
• Ask yourself if the toy is appropriate for your child’s age and developmental abilities.
• Avoid buying toys with sharp edges, rigid points or spikes.
• Buy toys that can withstand impact and will not break into pieces that can be a choking hazard or cause other injuries,
• Look for the letters “ASTM” on the toy or packaging. That means the toy has met the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
• Avoid toys that shoot, such as BB guns, or include parts that fly off.

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind this National Safe Toys and Gifts Month:

• Be sure the gifts you give are age appropriate. Playing with toys above a child’s age and level of maturity can lead to misuse and potential injury. Toy manufacturers list the age the toy is appropriate for on the packaging.
• Learn how to properly use the toy first, then teach your children how to use it.
• Buy quality toys. They might be more expensive, but high-quality materials are less likely to break into pieces and lead to injury.
• Inspect your children’s gifts as they open them to be sure they are safe before allowing them to play with the toys.
• If you give your children sports equipment, give them the appropriate protective gear for the sport as well, such as helmets for riding toys. Make sure the gear is sized to fit your child.
• A gift that includes art supplies should be labeled “non-toxic.”
• Keep small toys, “button” batteries and other potential choking hazards away from children under 3 years old.
• Keep deflated balloons away from children under 8. Immediately throw away balloons that won’t inflate or have popped.
• Discard plastic wrapping and other toy packaging right away before they become dangerous playthings for young children.

According to WATCH., online shoppers are at a disadvantage because they cannot physically inspect the toys before purchasing them. Unfortunately, there are some disreputable online retailers that may omit warnings and cautions and provide incomplete or misleading information regarding a toy’s safety. Further, unsafe and recalled toys can resurface on online websites.

If you shop for toys online, be sure to carefully inspect the toy and its packaging for obvious hazards before giving it to your child. “Don’t let your child unwrap a potential safety hazard this holiday season,” states Joan Lawrence of The Toy Association, a site for toy safety information. “By shopping smart, you can ensure safe play.”

Buy Safe Toys During Season Of Giving

December 9th, 2019

The wrong toys can cause serious injuries or death.

It’s the season of giving and that means toys. Whether they’re given to children during Christmas or Hanukkah or donated to toy drives or pediatric hospitals, toys can put smiles on the faces of those who give and those who receive.

However, toys that are unsafe and inappropriate for a child’s developmental stage can be harmful and even cause injuries that send kids to the emergency room.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 226,100 toy-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States in 2018.

Of those injuries, an estimated 73-percent happened to children younger than 15, and 37-percent of those injured were younger than 5. And nearly half of all those injuries involved the head and face.

So, before you go on that holiday shopping spree, here are some important things to keep in mind when toy shopping.

“Those developmental ages on the box are important,” says Joe Perno, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. He says choking is the most common accident among younger children, who tend to put things in their mouths. Small parts can be dangerous, especially magnets and button batteries.

“You’ve just got to be very cautious with the toys to make sure the parts are appropriate,” he says.

Toys intended for older children should be kept away from younger siblings to ensure they don’t swallow small parts. Also, children with special needs will require toys for ages that match their developmental stage as opposed to their chronological age.

Other safety tips include:

  • Check for recalls. You can find the most updated list here.
  • To avoid shocks and burns, do not give children under the age of 10 a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy battery-operated toys for those children.
  • Children can suffocate on broken or underinflated balloons. Do not allow children younger than age 8 to play with them.

If donating toys to a pediatric hospital, consult the hospital’s website or child life department to see what they are able to accept. Most hospitals are unable to accept stuffed animals due to infection control issues. Also, with a few exceptions, toys must be new, unwrapped and latex-free. All video games should be rated E or E 10-plus.

If donating to a toy drive, consult their websites. Most will not accept toys that include weapons or promote violence because possessing them can endanger children in some areas.

If giving toys such as scooters, bicycles, skateboards or roller blades, always include protective gear, especially a helmet.

If giving toys that include foam projectiles, always make sure protective eyewear is included, and the children use it.

“Every year, we’ll see an eye injury from this,” Dr. Perno says.

You can find more toy safety tips at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Fidget Spinners: Harmless or Hazard

August 7th, 2017

So, these toys called fidget spinners are the latest craze. Everybody who can get one has one (except me). I’ve never played with one – never actually seen one – but I have seen articles and advertisements for them all over the place. From what I’ve read, once you start playing with a spinner, you can’t stop. Photo courtesy of

Fidget spinners get you hooked because they’re mesmerizing. They have three prongs, or arms with weights, or bearings, that are attached to a central core. The arms rotate when you hold onto the center. As I understand it, when you twirl the toy, the arms spin and become a blur. Some of the spinners also light up. Hypnotic.

These gadgets purport to have some health benefits. They claim to relieve stress and help people focus. However, the jury is out on the health and safety of fidget spinners. Recent articles have highlighted some of the drawbacks of these popular products.

For one, there’s no evidence to support the claims of health benefits. According to Scott Kollins, clinical psychologist and director of the ADHD program at Duke University, “There has been no research into the efficacy or safety of these toys to help manage symptoms of ADHD, anxiety or any other mental health conditions in children, adolescents or adults.”

In fact, the opposite may be true. Some schools are even banning fidget spinners because they’re seen as a distraction. For example, a rule that disallowed students from bringing spinners to school was implemented at a number of facilities in the Dublin City School District outside Columbus, Ohio.

There are some physical health risks as well. Earlier this year in Texas and Oregon, there were incidents of children choking on small parts that broke off these gadgets. These cases prompted groups such as the Toy Association, the Good Housekeeping Institute and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue statements and recommendations on the safe use of these toys.

Apparently, what’s causing the choking hazard are small parts of the toys, including the bearings, that can come off and be swallowed by young children. Also potentially dangerous are the small batteries that come in the light-up spinners. If the battery compartments are not appropriately closed off, the batteries can fall out, and children can swallow those as well.Photo courtesy of

The CPSC is investigating the incidents in Texas and Oregon. They also issued an advisory to parents telling them to “keep fidget spinners away from young children because they can choke on small parts.” They added that parents should warn their older children not to put the toys in their mouths.

The Good Housekeeping Institute tested the fidget spinners in their Consumer Electronics and Engineering lab. Their results concluded that both “branded and knock-off spinners broke into pieces that could be choking hazards for children under three.” They issued a list of precautions for parents with children using the toys. The precautions include:

  • Check for small parts.
  • Get rid of broken toys.
  • Read the labeling and be sure the toy is appropriate for your child’s age.
  • Supervise your child while using the toy. As they said, “Nothing takes the place of a parent keeping an eye on their child.”
  • Register the product so you can be warned of any recalls.
  • Notify the CPSC of any problems at

In addition to checking for broken parts and following age labels, the Toy Association has a few other safety tips on their list of recommendations. They suggest shopping at reputable retailers you know and trust. They will be selling products that have been tested and comply with the US Safety Standards.

The Toy Association made particular mention of the risk of swallowing the batteries that come with the light-up spinners. They suggest parents only give their children spinners that have battery compartments that are secured so that only a tool or coin can access them.

Fidget spinners aren’t necessarily dangerous, but like most thinks, they need to be used appropriately. Follow your common sense when it comes to whom you give these toys. Consider your children’s ages and if they’re still prone to putting things in their mouths. These toys can entertain for hours. Don’t spoil the fun!

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