CPSC Releases Annual Holiday Shopping Tips, Top Five Toy Hazards

The holidays are here and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)--joined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Safe Kids Worldwide--has issued its annual holiday safety messages to remind parents to be diligent when making holiday shopping choices.

"CPSC, CBP, and industry activity has been with one goal in mind, to keep the toys our children play with the safest in the world," said Nancy Nord, CPSC acting chairman. "Vigorous inspection of toys, testing, and law enforcement have made toys the safest this season."

For 2007, CPSC has reports of 18 toy-related deaths and estimates that there were about 170,100 hospital emergency-room-treated, toy-related injuries to children younger than 15 years old. Most of the deaths were associated with airway obstruction from small toys, drowning, or motor vehicle accidents during play. Most of the injuries were lacerations, contusion, and abrasions; the head and face was the area most frequently affected.

The top five toy hazards:

  • Scooters and other Riding Toys - Riding toys, skateboards, and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn at all times and be sized to fit.
  • Small Balls and other Toys with Small Parts - For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
  • Balloons - Children less than eight years old can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. Keep un-inflated balloons from children. Discard broken balloons at once.
  • Magnets - For children younger than age six, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.
  • Chargers and Adapters - Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

Once the gifts are open:

  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things.
  • Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
  • Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging.
  • With the increased popularity of second-hand stores and on-line vendors, gift-givers should be especially vigilant to prevent the sale or purchase of hazardous products that have been recalled, banned, or do not meet current safety standards. www.cpsc.gov. Buyers should make sure their gifts do not include any of the recalled toys or children's products on CPSC's Web site.
  • Also, at this Web site, consumers can keep up-to-date on dangerous products by signing up to have recall announcements sent directly to their e-mail account. Choose to receive all recall announcements or children's product recalls only. Consumers also can call CPSC's toll-free hotline at (800) 638-CPSC. For information about all types of recalls, visit www.recalls.gov.

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