December Is Safe Toys and Gifts Month

The gift giving season is upon us, so in a departure from the regular workplace safety topics posted here, we at MEMIC would like to take a minute to remind you to keep safety a personal priority as you chose gifts for the young ones in your life.

Parents have always been worried about the toys their children play with.  Are they too violent, too noisy, too expensive, or confirm stereotypes?  But do you make sure your kid’s toys are safe to play with?  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2007, Fisher-Price recalled 967,000 toys due to a lead poisoning hazard. Small children can absorb lead or other toxins into their small bodies when chewing on toys. Some toys contain magnets which can affect the child’s digestive system if swallowed.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that in 2007 there were 232,900 children treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries and 18 children died due to toy injuries.

In August 2008, Congress passed a law to improve toy safety measures, including new testing procedures and harsher penalties for safety violators. This legislation also included a new ban on lead and other dangerous substances from toys, and the creation of a public database containing information on specific toys and how to file complaints about a toy.

This new legislation now makes it easier to enforce better safety practices, but won’t ensure them. In a matter of months after the bill passed, over 20 new toy recalls were issued. Many of these toys were still on store shelves. 

Do your part to be certain there are no unsafe toys in your home. Here are some toy safety tips for parents, grandparents, uncles,  aunts, and friends. 

  • Always match the age on the toy to the child’s age. The age grading system is based on safety. Choking hazards are prevalent with younger children.
  • Stuffed toys are always a classical gift for young children. For children under 3 years old look for sewed-on eyes or well-secured eyes and seams (little pellets are a major concern when spilled) that can stand up to the vigorous activities of your child’s play.
  • Never leave the toys inside cribs with infants.  
  • Remember to include a helmet with the bicycle, skateboard, or snowboard.
  • Batteries, especially those small coin-shaped ones, can pose a safety concern. Make sure children don’t have access to batteries or toy battery compartments.   Remember there are other products in your home not subject to toy safety standards. You will find batteries in your TV remote control, in clocks, and other products. It’s important that you keep those batteries out of your child’s reach and always discard them properly.
  • Be extra careful when buying toys from a flea market or from a garage sale. Some of those toys may have been made before safety standards were in place or they may be defective or broken.
  • Inspect all the toys in your home periodically for wear and tear, broken parts, or sharp edges. This is a good idea for all equipment in your house. If a toy is broken and cannot be properly repaired, discard it.
  • Watch out for toys with electrical wiring. Electrical shock can occur when the toy breaks and the live wiring is exposed, or it unexpectedly contacts water.

We now have stricter toy safety standards in our country. Any toy sold here, regardless of its country of origin, has to comply with these regulations.  However, recalls are an important step in the safety net should a problem be discovered. Be vigilant, check the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, Safe Kids Worldwide, BabyCenter, or ToySafety.Org to stay up to date on the latest recalls or other safety information.