Toys that Make Santa’s Nice List Comply with the Federal Toy Safety Standard By Tod Aronovitz | 12/23/13 | 0 Comment

As parents review their final gift list, it is critical to consider the safety of kid’s toys and related gift items. All toys intended for use by children 14 years of age and younger must comply with the federal toy safety standard enacted by Congress in section 106 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008.

Since that time, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), along with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has stopped more 3,000 different toys that were unsafe from reaching store shelves.

According to a CPSC news release, toy recalls actually plummeted in fiscal year 2013.  There were 31 recalls, none involving excess lead. Contrast that to previous years: 172 toy recalls in fiscal year 2008 (19 of which were due to excessive lead); 50 recalls in 2009 (14 for lead); 46 recalls in fiscal year 2010 (3 for lead); 34 recalls in 2011 (4 for lead); and 38 recalls in 2012 (3 for lead).  The majority of last year’s recalls involved ingestion hazards, including chemical and magnetic dangers. The CPSC says it is working to tackle these issues.

An important rule of thumb when planning to give toys for gifts is that they should adhere to the “five S’s” of safety:

  • Size – the smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be (anything smaller than a 35 mm film canister or ping pong ball is too small for a child under three).
  • Shape – be wary of products that may be easily swallowed because of their shape, or have sharp edges or points.
  • Surface – make sure all finishes are non-toxic.
  • Strings – anything over 30 cm is a strangulation hazard for a small child and should be removed.
  • Supervision – nothing replaces close supervision.

Other safety tips to remember:

  • Projectile toys should be low force, with flexible shafts, soft tipped parts, and should not easily discharge dangerous, improvised projectiles like nails and stones.
  • Avoid cap guns with no barrel plug as they can produce blasts of hot sparks.
  • Avoid toys with loud noises which can damage the hearing of young children.
  • Magnetic toys should be avoided for small children. If they are swallowed, they can attract across the bowel and cause serious damage.
  • Discard dead batteries in toys as they may leak corrosive fluid and burn skin.
  • Use open boxes or cupboards at floor level to store toys as opposed to toy boxes with heavy top-opening lids which can fall and crush children’s body parts.
  • Be especially cautious when selecting toys from discount stores or markets, as the traders’ internal safety procedures may not be as sophisticated as mainstream toy suppliers.
  • Don’t buy half a present. Bikes, skateboards and roller blades should be accompanied by appropriate helmets and other protective gear.

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