Are Your Child’s Toys Safe?

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Florida child playing with unsafe toyRecently, OKK Trading, Inc. was cited in a lawsuit for making a dart gun that was “unreasonably dangerous.” Unfortunately, the death of an eight-year-old boy who resided Texas prompted the lawsuit. A recall was initiated in December 2009 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission because the toy darts were found to be a choking hazard. The lawsuit brought against the company by the boy’s father was just settled this month.

How can you ensure your child’s toys are as safe as possible? The Florida PIRG Education Fund shares some tips.

1. Avoid buying toys with small parts, especially for children under the age of three. These parts can pose serious choking risks. To keep child’s toys safe, pick up and discard any parts or pieces of balloons that break so a child can’t put them in his/her mouth.

2. Consider the size and weight of the toy. Is it something that could fall easily on the child causing injury? If so, choose another toy.

3. Magnet toys are a no-no. Suppose your child accidentally swallowed a magnet, what do you think would happen? Magnets of high power can still attract to each other inside your child’s body, causing possible damage to the stomach lining or digestive tract, allowing for infections, bowel blockage, or ulcerations. Magnets should always be handled with care, not just by small children but even teenagers have been known to swallow powerful magnets and end up with serious injuries.

4. Likewise, toys with long cords, strings, or ribbons are easily accessible for little fingers to grab and put in a mouth and choke on. The length should be no longer than 12 inches (and not even that for small children). This includes any drawstrings on clothes that a child could easily find attainable.

5. The packaging that can come with a child’s toy is almost always marked as hazardous. Don’t keep it; throw it away as children can suffocate on plastic bags and those peanuts used as packaging materials are definitely possible choking hazards.

6. This seems like commonsense would already prevail here, but … check the recommended ages for all toys purchased. The labels are placed on the packaging of the toy for a reason. These toys have been assessed for the best age-appropriate fit; take advantage of this advice and don’t get big kid toys for smaller children.

7. The loudness factor: Don’t just consider the noise that a toy makes as being loud and/or irritating to the parents, but what about to the child’s hearing as well? The noise level on certain toys has been tested to be as high as the sound of a lawnmower. Noise that loud can damage your child’s sensitive hearing ability. Listen to new toys with that in mind before purchasing them for young children.

8. Does your child’s toy contain chemicals? Look at for ratings on chemical contents. Halloween will soon be here, and with that, the holiday season will be in full swing, with Christmas arriving shortly thereafter. It is especially important at this time of year that you are aware of products your child may come into contact with.

As well, you can always check the list of recalls, and even an archive of older recalls, on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website. Contact a personal injury attorney if you experience any poorly made or malfunctioning products that are detrimental to a loved one’s health.

Speaking of safety and Halloween, check out these tips from Bay News 9. Ensure that any Halloween masks don’t obstruct a child’s vision and any ghostly make-up needed for St. Petersburg trick-or-treating is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Wigs and costumes need to be flame-retardant: double- and triple-check this precaution! Children’s costumes should be brightly colored and a flashlight should be available to parents walking with children (if the child is too young to carry a flashlight of his/her own).

If you are expecting trick-or-treaters at your Saint Petersburg home, keep all walking areas well lit and don’t have any cords or other obstructions lying across walkways. Ensure that water hoses, low-hanging limbs, flower pots, tree roots, and/or electrical cords are safely put out of the way from any potential trick-or-treater’s path.