Last Minute Gifts? Make Sure Toxic Toys Aren’t On Your List!

The clocks ticking… have you done all of your holiday shopping? Have you retrieved the one toy that was on the TOP of the gift list this year? With the holidays quickly approaching and everyone out feverously shopping for gifts, it is also important to make sure that the toys you purchase are safe [this is a year around reminder by the way].  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) an average at least 15 children die each year from choking on a toy or toy part.  Although most toys found on store shelves are safe, there are still some toys that can pose a risk for young children (even if they meet the legal safety requirements).  These include items which may cause choking or damage the gastrointestinal tract such as small toys and removable toy parts, balls (especially if the diameter is less than 1.75 in), balloons, marbles, magnets, and toys shaped like corks or cones.  Additionally, some paints and pigments used in toys may expose your child to toxic metals such as Lead, Cadmium, or Antimony.

Here are some toy safety tips to keep your children safe this holiday season….

1. Read the Labels.  Heed all safety warnings on the packaging and use your best judgment and the advice we give here if a toy looks unsafe. Make sure your gift is appropriate for your child’s age.

2. Do Your Research.  Before you leave for the toy store, check to see if any of the toys on your list have been recalled due to safety concerns.

3. Keep an Eye Out at Home.  If you have small children, be sure to always keep an eye on them when they’re eating or playing with new toys.  It is also important to be on the lookout around your house for any other small objects (paperclips, magnets, batteries, and other small objects that can be harmful if eaten).  If your child has an older sibling, let them help by teaching their younger brother/sister not to put unsafe things in their mouth.

4. Be Careful with Balloons. Balloons are fun when they’re blown up, but once they deflate, they pose a significant choking risk for young children.  Keep unused balloons out of the reach of young children and throw away busted balloons immediately.

5. Heavy Metal – Not Just Your Taste in Music.  Since the developing brain and nervous system of infants and small children are particularly susceptible to injury from “heavy metals”, such as Lead, Cadmium, and Antimony, do not purchase items known to contain these toxic colorants.

6. Wrapping Paper Can Be Risky.  After the toys have been opened and the wrapping paper is strewn about, it is easy to be distracted with all of the new presents.  However, these shiny pieces of paper and plastic can easily be swallowed by young children.  Keeping a garbage bag nearby will help keep these potential hazards out of reach. This will help make clean up easier, as well.

7. Dangerous Drawstrings.  Drawstrings on children’s clothing can get caught on nearby objects and pose a significant safety risk.  We recommend buying clothes with other closures, such as snaps, buttons, and Velcro. 

8. Scooter Safety.  Skateboards, bicycles, roller skates, and other moving toys are popular toys, but can result in dangerous and deadly falls for young children.  Teach your children the importance of wearing a helmet and safety gear every time they ride.  Be sure to test that the gear fits properly, as well.

If you do come across a potentially dangerous toy, help keep not only your child safe, but others as well, by reporting it to the Illinois PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and the CPSC.

As always, please don’t hesitate to call the IPC (1-800-222-1222) regarding any suspected exposure to potentially harmful substances.  Have a happy and safe holiday!

Michael Gottlieb, Tony Burda

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