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Trouble in Toyland

trouble in toyland

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The holidays are right around the corner and for those of us who will be buying toys for the children in our families; it can be tough to find the perfect toys we know they will enjoy. Maybe we should also be concerned about the safety of those toys.

Each year, more than 120,000 children under the age of 14 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, with choking being the number one cause, according to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Even innocent-looking toys — such as marbles and balloons — can present a choking hazard to small children. The Child Safety Protection Act, a federal toy-labeling law, requires manufacturers to place warning labels on toys that pose a choking hazard to young children. Check out the Ten Worst Toys on the W.A.T.C.H.’s website here:

When selecting a toy for your child, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends you avoid the following:

  1. Toys with small, removable parts: Small parts can pose a choking hazard to children under age 3. Use a small parts tester (a plastic tube you can buy at a toy or baby specialty store) to measure the size of the toy or part. If the piece fits entirely inside the tube, then it’s considered a choking hazard.

  2. Toys with sharp points or edges: Children may unintentionally cut themselves or another person.

  3. Toys that make loud noises: Noisemaking toys, such as toy guns and high-volume portable cassette recorders, can permanently impair a child’s hearing.

  4. Propelled toy darts and other projectiles: Propelled toys can cause cuts or serious eye injuries.

  5. Toys with strings, straps, or cords longer than seven inches: Long strings and cords could wrap around a child’s neck and strangle him.

  6. Toys painted with lead-based paint: Exposure to lead can result in lead poisoning, causing serious damage to a child’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system.

  7. Toy cap guns: Paper roll, strip, or ring caps can be ignited by the slightest friction, and can cause serious burns.

There are millions of toys out there, and hundreds of new ones come along every year. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for monitoring and regulating toys that are made in our country, and those that enter our country, mainly from China. However, even still today, they somehow fail to detect quality or safety issues prior to the sale of some toys, and they are placed on the market regardless of their dangers.

When CPSC begins receiving reports of children becoming injured or even killed by a toy, only then do they consider taking it off the market, when it’s too late for the victims. But, how would we feel if one of our own children became seriously injured as a result of playing with a dangerous toy before it was banned from shelves? Because so many toys are recalled (especially those that are imported from other countries), you would think there would be no way children in America could be harmed by a dangerous toy. Yet, it still happens.

I sincerely wish you all a safe and happy holiday this year, Marianne

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