December 6, 2001
FOR KIDS' SAKE: THINK TOY SAFETY
WHEN BUYING TOYS
- Choosing toys with care. Keep in mind the child's age, interests and skill
Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.
Make sure that all directions or instructions are clear -- to you, and, when
appropriate, to the child. Plastic wrappings on toys should be discarded at
once before they become deadly playthings.
Be a label reader. Look for and heed age recommendations, such as "Not
recommended for children under three". Look for other safety labels
including: "Flame retardant/Flame resistant" on fabric products and
"Washable/hygienic materials" on stuffed toys and dolls.
WHEN MAINTAINING TOYS
Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. A damaged or
dangerous toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.
Edges on wooden toys that might have become sharp or surfaces covered with
splinters should be sanded smooth. When repainting toys and toy boxes, avoid
using leftover paint, unless purchased recently, since older paints may
contain more lead than new paint, which is regulated by CPSC. Examine all
outdoor toys regularly for rust or weak parts that could become hazardous.
WHEN STORING TOYS
Teach children to put their toys safely away on shelves or in a toy chest
after playing to prevent trips and falls.
Toy boxes, too, should be checked for safety. Use a toy chest that has a lid
that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall
unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation
holes for fresh air. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that
could pinch or squeeze. See that toys used outdoors are stored after play --
rain or dew can rust or damage a variety of toys and toy parts creating
New toys intended for children under eight years of age should, by
regulation, be free of sharp glass and metal edges.
With use, however, older toys may break, exposing cutting edges.
Older toys can break to reveal parts small enough to be swallowed or to
become lodged in a child's windpipe, ears or nose. The law bans small parts
in new toys intended for children under three. This includes removable small
eyes and noses on stuffed toys and dolls, and small, removable squeakers on
Toy caps and some noisemaking guns and other toys can produce sounds at
noise levels that can damage hearing. The law requires the following label
on boxes of caps producing noise above a certain level: "WARNING -- Do not
fire closer than one foot to the ear. Do not use indoors." Caps producing
noise that can injure a child's hearing are banned.
CORDS AND STRINGS
Toys with long strings or cords may be dangerous for infants and very young
children. The cords may become wrapped around an infant's neck, causing
strangulation. Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons
in cribs or playpens where children can become entangled. Remove crib gyms
for the crib when the child can pull up on hands and knees; some children
have strangled when they fell across crib gyms stretched across the crib.
Toys which have been broken may have dangerous points or prongs. Stuffed
toys may have wires inside the toy which could cut or stab if exposed. A
CPSC regulation prohibits sharp points in new toys and other articles
intended for use by children under eight years of age.
Projectiles -- guided missiles and similar flying toys -- can be turned into
weapons and can injure eyes in particular. Children should never be
permitted to play with adult lawn darts or other hobby or sporting equipment
that have sharp points. Arrows or darts used by children should have soft
cork tips, rubber suction cups or other protective tips intended to prevent
injury. Check to be sure the tips are secure. Avoid those dart guns or other
toys which might be capable of firing articles not intended for use in the
toy, such as pencils or nails.
ALL TOYS ARE NOT FOR ALL CHILDREN
Keep toys designed for older children out of the hands of little ones.
Follow labels that give age recommendations -- some toys are recommended for
older children because they may be hazardous in the hands of a younger
child. Teach older children to help keep their toys away from younger
brothers and sisters.
Even balloons, when uninflated or broken, can choke or suffocate if young
children try to swallow them. More children have suffocated on uninflated
balloons and pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.
Electric toys that are improperly constructed, wired or misused can shock or
burn. Electric toys must meet mandatory requirements for maximum surface
temperatures, electrical construction and prominent warning labels. Electric
toys with heating elements are recommended only for children over eight
years old. Children should be taught to use electric toys properly,
cautiously and under adult supervision.
Infant toys, such as rattles, squeeze toys, and teethers, should be large
enough so that they cannot enter and become lodged in an infant's throat.
Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Consumer Product Safety
Act, the Commission has set safety regulations for certain toys and other
children's articles. Manufacturers must design and manufacture their
products to meet these regulations so that hazardous products are not sold.
Protecting children from unsafe toys is the responsibility of everyone.
Careful toy selection and proper supervision of children at play is still --
and always will be -- the best way to protect children from toy-related
injuries. To report a product hazard or a product-related injury, write to
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C., 20207, or
call the toll-free hotline: 1-800-638-2772. A teletypewriter for the deaf is
available at 1-800-638-8270.