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Health & Parenting

Dangerous Toys Abound During Holidays

Shoppers Urged to Be Aware of Toy Recalls and Hidden Toy Dangers
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Shopping for Safe Toys

Experts at the PIRG and the CPSC recommend the following tips for choosing safe and appropriate toys for the children on your gift list:

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.
  • For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard. Never give young children small balls or balloons.
  • Look for sturdy construction on plush toys, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
  • Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points, especially for children under age 8.
  • Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
  • Check toys that make loud noises, which may damage young ears. If it seems too loud to an adult, it's too loud for a child.
  • Read the label. Look for labels on toys that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide. Check instructions for clarity.
  • Be careful when purchasing toys over the Internet. Some toys sold on web sites may be manufactured by companies that do not comply with U.S. toy regulations. Toys sold on discount or auction sites may also have been recalled by the CPSC as hazardous.
  • If you plan to give bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or inline skates, don't forget to include appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and pads.

After the present has been opened, immediately discard any plastic wrappings on toys. Plastic bags and wrappings can cause suffocation.

Recent Toy Recalls

To make it easier for consumers to find out more about recall announcements, the CPSC today announced the launch of a new federal recall web site, www.Recalls.gov. This site contains links to all federal agencies authorized to issue recalls, including the CPSC, the FDA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here is a list of some recent toy recalls from the CSPC:

  • Woody Dolls (40,000) distributed by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts at the Disney Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Magic of Disney and Flight Fantastic shops at the Orlando International Airport, and Disney's Worldport shop at Pointe Orlando. The doll's clothing has buttons that can detach, posing a choking hazard for young children. Call Walt Disney Parks and Resorts at (866) 228-3664 or visit www.waltdisneyworld.com to receive a refund.
  • Little People Animal Sounds Farm (67,000) distributed by Fisher-Price. Two small metal screws that hold the toy "stall doors" in place can come off, posing an aspiration or choking hazard to young children. Call Fisher-Price toll-free at (866) 259-7873 to receive a free repair kit. Log on to www.service.mattel.com to determine if your product is one of the recalled models and to order the free repair kit.
  • Drumsticks sold with toy drum sets (300,000) distributed by Battat Inc. The end piece of the drumstick handle can break off, posing a choking hazard to young children. The screw at the end of the drumstick can loosen and detach, posing a choking hazard. Call Battat toll-free at (800) 247-6144 to get a replacement set of drumsticks.
  • Scooters (30,000) and Mini Bikes (55,000) distributed by Fisher-Price. The motor control circuits can malfunction, causing the scooters and mini bikes to continue to run after the power or throttle button is released, posing a risk of injury to children. Call Fisher-Price toll free at (800) 528-7153 or log on to www.service.mattel.com to receive information on how to have the toys serviced for free at a certified Power Wheels Service Center.
  • Cosco "Arriva" and "Turnabout" Infant Car Seats/Carriers (1,200,000) distributed by Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. When the seat is used as a carrier, the plastic handle locks can unexpectedly break or release from the carrying position, causing the seat to unlatch or flip forward. When this happens, an infant can fall to the ground and suffer injuries. Consumers may continue to use the product as a car seat but should stop using it as a carrier. Call Dorel at (800) 880-9435 to get a free repair kit, or go to www.djgusa.com.
  • "Spit Smatter" Spray Foam (1,300,000) distributed by JAKKS Pacific Inc. The aerosol cans can forcefully break apart, posing a risk of serious injury. Call JAKKS Pacific at (800) 554-5516 or go to www.jakkspacific.com to get instructions on disposal and how to receive a refund.
  • Magic Start Crawl 'n Stand (300,000) distributed by Playskool. The toy, which is designed to encourage crawling babies to pull themselves up and stand, can tip over during use and strike falling babies in the head, face, or neck, resulting in injuries. Call Playskool at (800) 509-9554 anytime to get information on how to return the product to receive a free replacement item of similar value.
  • "Pack 'n Play" portable play yards with raised changing tables (538,000) distributed by Graco Children's Products. When children are placed in these portable play yards when the changing table is still in place, they can crawl under and lift the table up. If this occurs, a child's head and neck can become trapped between the changing table and the play yard rail, causing a strangulation hazard. Consumers should never place a child in these portable play yards when the changing table is still in place. Contact Graco to receive a free warning label to be affixed to the changing table. Call (800) 233-1546 or go to www.gracobaby.com.
  • Playpens that can collapse (five brands totaling more than 1,500,000 units) and entrap a child in the V-shape folded top rails. The top rails must be turned to set up the playpen. A new industry standard requires that the top rails of these playpens automatically lock into place when the playpen is fully set up. The CPSC obtained voluntary recalls of the following playpens with top rails that people had to turn into place when setting up the playpen: Evenflo "Happy Camper," "Happy Cabana," and "Kiddie Camper;" Century "Fold-N-Go" Models 10-710 and 10-810; Baby Trend "Home and Roam" and "Baby Express;" and Kolcraft "Playskool Travel-Lite Model." The CPSC also issued a safety warning about "All Our Kids" Models 742 and 762 playpens imported by a firm that is out of business.
  • Multicolored Sidewalk Chalk (26,000 packages) imported by Target Corporation. The multicolored sidewalk chalk contains high levels of lead, posing a risk of poisoning to young children. The sidewalk chalk was sold at Target stores from March 2003 to July 2003 for about $1 per package. Consumers should return the multicolored sidewalk chalk to Target stores for a refund. Call Target Corporation at (800) 440-0680 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or go to the company's web site at www.target.com.

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