Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends buy toys for children, usually with the intention of delighting and entertaining the recipients. Most of the time, toys function as intended and provide hours — or even weeks, months or years — of fun. Unfortunately, in some cases, toys can injure children. In fact, toy-related injuries send hundreds of children under 15 years old to the emergency room for treatment every day in the U.S.
While it is not realistic to think it is possible to avoid all toy-related injuries, there are some steps parents can take to help ensure the safety of their children’s toys.
Read Packaging Carefully
Before removing a new toy from its packaging, read provided information and warnings. Toys typically include a suggested age range; allowing a young child to play with a toy intended for older children could be risky. That’s because toys for younger children are designed knowing that small children often put things in their mouths. Older children’s toys may be smaller and could present choking hazards.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also has standards that most toy manufacturers must follow. If the toy includes “ASTM F963” on the packaging, it means the toy has been reviewed against the latest toy safety standards. This labeling is not mandatory, however, so its absence does not definitively mean a toy has not been reviewed for safety. A label of “ASTM D4236” on art materials means a toxicologist has reviewed the toy for safety.
Examine The Toy After Removing Packaging
After taking the toy out of its packaging, look at it carefully to determine if there are any sharp edges or other obvious potential dangers. Regardless of the suggested age range for the toy, inspect toys for infants or toddlers to ensure there are no marbles or small parts with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less.
If you have children of different ages, separate older children’s toys from their younger siblings’ toys, and ensure toys for older children are not easily accessible by smaller kids.
Follow Provided Instructions
Even a toy that otherwise meets safety standards could cause injuries if it is not used as intended. Always read and follow provided instructions. For toys with wheels, this generally means that the child should wear a helmet and, in some cases, other protective gear. Batteries should be secured so children cannot access them. If a toy’s battery compartment is not working correctly, small children’s toys should be placed out of reach until they can be fixed or disposed of if repairs are not possible.
Review Lists Of Recalled Products
The U.S. government maintains a website listing federal product recalls for various types of consumer products, including toys. Visit recalls.gov to review the most current list of recalls. You can also sign up for email alerts and be notified when new recalls have been added to the list. You can also report dangerous products using the website.
If a toy that you purchased has been recalled by the manufacturer, make sure your child cannot access it and follow all provided instructions.
Steps To Take If You Have Concerns About A Defective Toy
If you believe a toy is dangerous or that a defect in a child’s toy or game injured your child, consider seeking legal advice. Lawyers for defective products can evaluate the situation with an eye toward your rights as a consumer and can advise you on those rights and your options.
While following the tips above cannot guarantee your child’s safety, they may help you avoid a situation where your child is injured while playing with something that is supposed to be fun. Being an informed consumer — one who is mindful of safety — can ultimately protect not only you but also other parents and caregivers across the country.