Manufacturer recalls of toys have declined this year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), with only 38 recalls of children's toys to date compared to 162 in 2008 and 148 in 2007. Several reasons for this good news: tighter Federal safety regulations, compliance by the industry, consumer awareness and education, cooperation with other countries, and increased enforcement at ports of entry.
To help parents further their awareness of safety issues, U.S. PIRG—the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs)—has just released its 24th annual Trouble in Toyland survey, which offers safety advice to parents buying children's toys.
The organization's new interactive website and mobile phone tool enable consumers to check for possible toy hazards, either from home before they shop or from their mobile phone while shopping. For more information, visit: www.uspirg.org/home. Consumers can report toy safety hazards via computer or mobile phone by visiting: www.toysafety.mobi
Eight Safety Tips
The U.S. PIRG and the CPSC offer the following toy safety tips for the holidays and all seasons:
Dress up with helmets. Make sure children wear helmets and safety gear while on riding toys such as skateboards, roller skates and scooters, and assure that the gear fits properly. Instructions on how to properly fit a bicycle helmet are on the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute's website: www.bhsi.org/fit.htm
For children under age 6, steer clear of small magnets. Many toys for children contain magnets, which can be life-threatening if swallowed. For children under age six, it's best to stay away from such toys.
For children under age 3, ban toys with small parts. Many children's toys contain small parts, which can be a choking hazard for younger children since they often put things into their mouths. Although many of these toys may be appropriate for older children, parents need to remember to keep such toys away from younger siblings. Play it safe by limiting children's toys that contain small parts to children aged three and older.
Keep un-inflated and broken balloons out of reach. Balloons are an all-time favorite but can present choking and suffocation dangers. Therefore, keep un-inflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old, and dispose of broken balloons immediately.
Lower the volume, save an ear. New legislation specifies loudness thresholds for children's toys. In addition, parents can take measures to protect their children from hearing loss from loud toys. If a toy sounds too loud to you, it probably is. Take the batteries out of loud toys or cover up the speakers with tape.
Scan for lead. Worried that there may be lead in toys? You can scan the surface of children's toys—or most other surfaces—with a home lead tester that one can buy at hardware stores for about $8 to $18. For information, visit Consumer Reports online at: http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/2007/10/testing-the-lea.html
Toss the toy packaging. To guard against suffocation and other dangers, immediately dispose of plastic bags, wrapping and other toy packaging.
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