4 Must-Know Tips for Avoiding Dangerous Toys

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For children, toys are perhaps the most exciting part of the holiday, and many parents love to see their excitement and joy upon receiving them. Unfortunately, it sometimes turns out that the very toys made specifically for kids end up being dangerous to their health. What’s more, companies aren’t always quick to recall these toys, and sometimes aren’t even legally required to alter them, leaving the responsibility of safety squarely on the shoulders of the parents. With that in mind, it’s important to establish some safe habits for evaluating toys during the holiday season and keeping your kids safe from potentially harmful ones.

To help you in your quest, we’ve made a list of some resources for information and things to consider:

1.The consumer advocate group US PIRG publishes a yearly survey of toy safety, which provides information on a variety of hazards including toxins, choking hazards, strangulation hazards, and more. The report also details recommendations for parents to avoid toys with such risks.

2. US PIRG also offers a smartphone-optimized list of potentially hazardous toys that, while they may not have been recalled, have been found by the group to pose a risk to children. If you’re considering a toy for your child, be sure to check this list before making your purchase.

3. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains an online list of recalled toys, including information on the reason for the recall and how to proceed if you have purchased one of the recalled items.

4. The same group offers a searchable online database for information on reports in addition to recalls at SaferProducts.gov. This website allows consumers, child service providers, and others to submit reports of harm if a product has resulted in injury. The manufacturers of the products are notified of the report and can comment on them, and users of the website can search for and read these reports as well as manufacturer comments. This website is particularly valuable for determining the safety of a toy that has not been recalled, but may have several reports of harm filed against it.

5. Some PVC toys contain phthalates, which have been shown to cause developmental issues in children. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), (H.R. 4040) signed in February 2009 responded to concerns about these substances, but they don’t apply to certain products. For example, toys greater than 5cm that cannot be put in the mouth, but can be licked, are not subject to the temporary phthalate restrictions put on smaller toys. More information on this measure can be found on the American Chemistry website.

These are just a few resources that may help you in your search for healthy, safe toys for your children. While there are risks associated with some toys, by following the steps above and exercising common sense, you can protect your children and ensure a safe, happy holiday for the whole family.

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