The holiday season makes December a popular time for purchasing gifts to celebrate our loved ones, especially the children in our lives. Accordingly, toys are big business. The NPD Group estimates that last year, U.S. retail sales of toys were $18.08 billion; December alone saw a six percent growth over 2013. Whether action figures or dolls, puzzles or paint sets, models or musical instruments, toys are supposed to be safe. To help everyone have a healthier, happier holiday season, it’s important to be aware of the dangers associated with toys.
The excitement that can come along with buying presents for a child can easily cause the shopper to forget about seemingly dull considerations such as whether the gifts are age-appropriate or at a suitable skill level. In an effort to both remind and educate people, Prevent Blindness America has declared December to be Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which closely monitors and regulates toys, reveals in its report on Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries that an estimated 251,800 people were injured by unsafe toys last year. Approximately 73 percent of the injuries happened to children younger than 15 years of age, 69 percent occurred to children 12 years of age or younger, and 34 percent happened to kids younger than 5 years old. Between 2010 and 2013, 50 children died in toy-related incidents. Although some of these fatalities stem from accidents, many are the result of design or construction defects.
Toys that represent some of the biggest hazards to children can often be found on the “10 Worst Toys” list issued annually by the non-profit organization World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.). This year’s nominees include toys from nationally known brands, ranging in price from $4.97 to $49.99 and sold at major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Amazon, and eBay. The most common injuries resulting from toys are:
W.A.T.C.H.’s 2015 NOMINEES FOR 10 WORST TOYS
1. “Bud” Skipit’s Wheely Cute Pull Along
2. Foam Dart Gun
3. Stats 38 Quick Folding Trampoline
5. Splat X Smack Shot
6. Kick Flipper
7. Leonardo’s Electronic Stealth Sword
8. Kid Connection Doctor Play Set
9. Pull Along Zebra10. Jurassic World Velociraptor Claws
- Brain injury/head trauma
- Hearing loss.
So, whether you are buying a gift for a child or are the parent of a child who receives a gift, keep these guidelines in mind this holiday season:
- Any paint used should be lead-free.
- Any fabric used should be flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Art materials should be nontoxic.
- Follow age and safety recommendations on labels.
- Any piece of a toy that can fit inside a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard and is not appropriate for kids under age three.
- Don’t buy toys that produce loud noises or shoot projectiles.
- Don’t buy young children toys with strings or cords longer than seven inches, due to strangulation risk.
- Avoid electrical toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
- Some children mistake fake food as real, which can be very dangerous if they try to consume it.
- High-powered magnets such as Buckyball magnets and ellipsoid toy magnets pose dangerous threats if swallowed, and should be kept away from small children.
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear.
Now is a good opportunity to brush up on the best ways to keep this time of year enjoyable and safe for kids. The most important thing that any adult can do is supervise children at play. Many strangulation, choking and suffocation tragedies can be easily avoided just by a grown-up paying attention. Remember that the sentimental value of hand-me-down toys may be negated by their failure to meet current health and safety standards. Keep toys intended for older children away from younger ones, and take the time to instruct children on how to properly use a toy. Also, examine toys regularly for broken parts, throw away broken toys or repair them immediately, and store outdoor toys out of the rain to avoid rust.
All consumers have a right to be safe while using a product. If you believe that your child was injured by a hazardous toy, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at Stabinski Law For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.