With the holiday shopping season finally upon us, millions are searching for the perfect toy for that special child in their lives. But did you know that toy-related injuries send about 240,000 children in the United States to the emergency room every year?
Sadly, there is danger lurking in the toy aisle. To make more informed choices, parents and caregivers should take the time to learn about common hazards before purchasing toys and other recreational products for their kids.
The Killino Firm’s Child Injury Lawyers believe the victims of defective and dangerous toys deserve compensation for their pain and suffering. If your son or daughter suffered a toy-related injury, call our law firm toll free at 877-875-2927 to speak with a top personal injury attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
What Makes a Toy Dangerous?
According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s (PIRG) 35th annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, toy hazards come in many forms. And as with most things this year, the coronavirus pandemic has only served to increase the risks associated with dangerous and defective toys.
“Parents and caregivers are overwhelmed,” Grace Brombach, a consumer watchdog associate with PIRG said. “Older siblings are spending more time indoors with younger siblings. Toys meant for older children could end up in the hands of younger children.”
So, what kinds of toys should gift-givers avoid this year?
According to PIRG, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced ten toy recalls over the past year. From a water gun labeled with lead-tainted stickers to magic wands with detachable choking hazards, these voluntary recalls accounted for more than 800,000 units of toys sold in the United States since November 2019.
While recalls are supposed to remove dangerous toys from the market, it’s not a perfect system. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for recalled toys to turn up on eBay and Craigslist or at consignment shops and garage sales.
Noisy toys aren’t just annoying; they can also cause incredible damage to a young child’s ears. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sounds with decibel levels of more than 80 can potentially cause hearing damage in children if they are exposed long enough, while noises between 100 and 120 decibels cause harm if exposure lasts more than one minute.
Toys with small, detachable parts pose a choking hazard for small children.
Those that contain small parts, game pieces, or items such as marbles or balls intended for children ages 3 through 6 are required to have a label warning stating the product is not safe for children under 3 years old. But Several items commonly used by kids — including books and other products made of paper, modeling clay, and writing/drawing items such as crayons, chalk, pencils, pens, watercolors, and finger paints — are exempt from these rules.
The plastic film coverings on some toys used to protect mirrors and other surfaces from being scratched or damaged during packing or shipping can also pose a choking hazard. Of all children’s products, – a balloon is the primary cause of suffocation death among children.
Small, rare-earth magnets are found not only in toys but also in some jewelry and refrigerator magnets. If children swallow these powerful magnets, they can attract in the body and twist or pinch the intestines, causing holes, blockages, infection, and even death, according to the CPSC.
Toys Intended for Adults
Some toys, including fidget spinner and certain types of magnet sets, may not meet the same safety standards as other because they are primarily designed with adults in mind.
The Most Dangerous Toys of the 2020 Holiday Season
Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc. (W.A.T.C.H) has released its list of the “10 Worst Toys of 2020”, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
“Shockingly, classic toy dangers, such as small parts, strings, projectiles, toxic substances, rigid materials, and inaccurate warnings and labels, continue to reappear in new generations of toys putting children at risk,” the organization said.
So, what toys should gift-givers avoid this year? W.A.T.C.H.’s 2020 list includes:
Calico Critters Nursery Friends
These adorable sets of “critters” are labeled for ages “3+” on the throw-away packaging. But the animal figures are covered in thin, fuzzy material, and their small, colorful accessories are appealing to oral-aged children. In fact, these toys and their accessories are suspected in the death of a child in New Mexico and a near-death incident involving a boy in Utah. Both children were under 3 years old and reportedly choked on the same pacifier accessory.
Kids as young as 5 are advised to “GO! Launch” this “missile” with the provided slingshot-like launcher, and “watch it soar…up to 75 ft!” But the warnings and cautions make no mention of the potential for eye or facial injuries. Moreover, the act of initiating launch occurs near a child’s face, as depicted on the packaging.
Marvel Avengers Vibranium Power FX Claw
Inspired by Marvel’s “Black Panther” superhero character, the Power FX Claws are marketed for kids as young as five. The manufacturer includes a caution prohibiting “hit[ting] or swing[ing] at people or animals.”
Gloria Owl Plush Toy
This cuddly, plush owl is sold for babies as young as 12 months old. But even the manufacturer recognizes the toy’s long, fiber-like hair may not be adequately rooted and is prone to “shredding.” The hair, once separated, presents the potential for ingestion or aspiration injuries.
WWE Jumbo Superstar Fists
These “jumbo” size fists enable 3-year-old kids to emulate pro wrestling “superstars.” While the manufacturer advises adult supervision, no warnings or cautions are provided regarding the potential for blunt force or impact injuries.
Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime
This “supreme slime lab” allows children to create “GLOBS of gross gloppy goop!”, including “magnetic,” “atomic,” and other types of “slimes.” There are numerous warnings and cautions on the box, package inserts, and the included chemicals and ingredients. For example, the zinc sulfide pouch warns that its contents “[m]ay cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. Harmful if swallowed.”
The Original Boomerang Interactive Stunt UFO
Kids are encouraged to “PERFORM AMAZING STUNTS & TRICKS!” by “tossing” it into the air. Despite warning about potential propeller “damage,” the manufacturer urges users to play “catch” by “pass[ing] the UFO back and forth to friends.” According to W.A.T.C.H., these toys pose a risk of cutting and propeller-related injuries.
Boom City Racer Starter Pack
“BOOM CITY” race cars are sold with a ripcord “launcher” so children as young as 4-years-old can use the “stunt set” to “RIP, RACE, [and] EXPLODE!” these miniature vehicles. The manufacturer provides numerous warnings and cautions, including not to aim at “eyes or face.”
My Sweet Love Lots to Love Baby Minis
This tiny baby comes with a feeding set, sold for 2-year-olds as “[a]ccessories for doll use only.” But the set’s slender, rigid plastic spoon is only about 2¾” and could be mouthed and block a child’s airway.
Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber
Young children are encouraged to “SWING FOR BATTLE….!” with this “ancient, black bladed lightsaber” made of rigid plastic, with the potential for facial and other impact injuries.
Many Dangerous Toys Remain on the Market
You might assume that a dangerous toy would be removed from the market as soon as its risks became known. But unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. In fact, it’s still possible to find nine of the ten products that made W.A.T.C.H.’s 2019 list at Amazon, Target, and other reputable retailers:
- Nerf Ultra: Potential for Eye Injuries.
- Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog: Potential Choking Hazard.
- Bunchems!: Potential for Hair Entanglement and Choking.
- Yeti Plush Toy: Potential for Ingestion/Aspiration Injuries.
- Nickelodeon Frozen Treats Slime: Potential for Chemical Ingestion and Irritation Injuries.
- Schylling Diecast Metal School Bus: Potential Choking Hazard.
- Pogo Trick Board: Potential for Head and Impact Injuries.
- Power Rangers Electronic Cheetah Claw: Potential for Eye and Facial Injuries.
- Viga Pull-Along Caterpillar: Potential for Strangulation and Entanglement Injuries.
Avoid Dangerous Toys this Holiday Season
When looking for toys this holiday season, keep the following tips in mind:
- Only buy age-appropriate toys. Keep toys for older kids separate from those intended for younger children.
- To prevent choking and suffocation injuries, throw away plastic bags and other packaging materials immediately after toys are opened.
- Kids 3 years of age and younger should only play with toy parts larger than the opening of a toilet paper roll.
- Never give balloons or small balls to young children—balls for kids under six must be larger than 1.75″ in diameter. They should not play with toys that run on watch-sized “button” batteries because they also present the risk of choking and fatal internal injuries.
- Never allow kids to play with magnet toys.
- If it sounds too loud, it probably is. Be especially careful when buying cap guns, talking dolls, toy cars with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, instruments, and toys with cranks.
- Don’t allow your son or daughter to play with long cords or strings. Keep mobiles out of reach and removed from the crib when babies begin to push themselves up. Ribbons or cords attached to toys should not be longer than 12 inches.
- Avoid toys made with toxic chemicals, including BPA (bisphenol A), NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates), lead, arsenic, and hazardous flame retardants. org has chemical content ratings for over 5,000 products. Home lead testers are sold at hardware stores and can be used to test costume jewelry, metals, and paints.
- Consider whether a toy is heavy enough to cause injury if it fell on your son or daughter.
- Remember that some online product descriptions may omit warnings and cautions or provide incomplete or misleading information. Unsafe or recalled toys may also resurface on second-hand online sites. Thoroughly inspect any toy purchased online and its packaging for warning signs of obvious hazards before giving it to a child.
- Check the CPSC website to determine if a toy has been recalled, including its archive of old recalls.
Contact an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer
Unfortunately, defectively designed and dangerous toys can cause severe injury or death, even when parents and gift-givers have taken all possible precautions.
As a top child injury attorney, Jeffrey Killino has the resources and knowledge to help injured victims and their families receive the compensation they deserve. If a dangerous toy harmed your son or daughter, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-875- 2927.