Claims for Dangerous or Defective Toys This Holiday Season
With the holidays around the corner, many may soon be searching for fun toys to make the little ones smile. Unfortunately, some toys are dangerous. Advocacy groups, including Prevent Blindness America and The World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.), publish an annual list of potentially dangerous toys. While some toys (BB guns, for example) carry obvious dangers, other toys may appear perfectly safe but harbor hidden dangers. While it is by no means an exhaustive list, we have summarized a few categories of dangerous toys that you may want to avoid during the shopping season.
Age Appropriate Toys and Warnings
Make sure that you check the suggested age bracket for the toy you are purchasing. According to Prevent Blindness America, 11,000 children suffer from toy-related eye injuries each year. Toys with sharp points, rods, spikes, or dangerous edges are a common source of eye injuries. Additionally, toys that fire projectiles, such as darts or arrows, should be limited to children who are old enough to use them responsibly. Children who are too young to understand that an air rifle should never be pointed at a person are too young to have an air rifle. Even some Nerf guns can fire soft projectiles with such force that they expose children to eye injuries.
Infants put toys in their mouths. That’s just a fact of life. For that reason, most toys manufactured in the United States comply with standards that prohibit toys from being coated with toxic substances. Unfortunately, many imported toys fail to comply with U.S. standards. Retailers are responsible for selling safe toys, but they do not always exercise care in selecting the toys they sell. The problem of unsafe products entering the United States is illustrated by Mexican-made honey pacifiers. An article written by US Newsweek shows several recent cases of infant botulism in Texas that were linked to imported pacifiers that contained honey. Toxic chemicals that may endanger children include lead, bromine, chlorine/pvc, cadmium, arsenic, tin, antimony, and mercury. Some toy manufacturers used phthalates to soften plastics and make them more flexible. Phthalates have been linked to endocrine disruption, chronic disease, and cancer.
Any wheeled-vehicle creates the risk that a child will fall while riding the vehicle. Parents can take steps to minimize those risks by assuring that the child is old enough to manage the vehicle. Bicycle helmets are important and may prevent brain injuries in case of an accident.
Some hoverboards, on the other hand, contain dangers that are hidden from parents. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a warning based on reports that hundreds of hoverboards have overheated or started on fire while their batteries were charging. Two Pennsylvania children died in a house fire that was started by a hoverboard.
Hoverboards sold since January 2016 must be manufactured to a UL safety standard. Unfortunately, hoverboards sold by street vendors, in kiosks, on websites, and in some stores do not always meet that standard. Even a UL-compliant hoverboard might overheat. Parents should be cautious about monitoring hoverboards while charging their batteries.
Parents often give children a toy that they pull on a cord. Long cords, however, pose a strangulation hazard.
The industry standard for a pull-toy cord is twelve inches. Toys with cords that are twice that length are available from stores and websites, placing children at risk. For example, the Chien A Promener Pull Along Dog comes with a 19-inch cord that can too easily wrap around a child’s neck.
Any toy with removable parts, whether or not the manufacturer intends the parts to be removed, can pose a choking hazard for young children. For example, the Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll comes with a headband that can be removed and swallowed.
The Miniclara The Ballerina doll comes with a little kitten accessory that can detach and turn into a choking hazard. The Waterpede bath toy was recalled earlier this year because children could choke on small parts if the toy broke open. The toy and others like it might nevertheless be available for sale on websites.