Federal Agencies Working to Keep Children Safe from Dangerous Toys – Advise Consumers to Shop Smart for Appropriate-Age Gifts for Youngsters

November 30, 2005
Release Number: 06-041

‘Tis the season for parents and families to head to the nation's toy stores with hopes of finding the perfect gift for the holidays. To ensure the safest shopping experience for all consumers, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been working at the ports to track down and stop dangerous toys from finding their way to store shelves. While the government is doing its part to protect young children from hazardous toys, parents and grandparents can contribute to their families safety by being educated shoppers.

"As we enter the holiday season, kids around the nation will be making their lists of must-have toys," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "But what a child wants may not always be the best choice when it comes to safety."

Stratton advises that parents and caregivers shop smart to find gifts this holiday season that will both please children and keep them safe.

Stratton was joined today at a press conference on toy safety in Washington, D.C. by Vera Adams, Executive Director, Trade Enforcement and Facilitation at CBP, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, which plays a pivotal role in consumer product safety. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the first line of defense against dangerous or unauthorized goods coming into the country.

"CBP and CPSC work cooperatively to examine, sample, and test goods. Our Customs and Border Protection Officers seize goods, including toys, that represent a danger to public safety and goods that violate intellectual property rights costing the U.S. economy $200 to $250 billion in lost revenue," said Adams.

CPSC has reports of 16 toy-related deaths involving children under age 15 that occurred in 2004. Most of these deaths occurred when a child choked on a small ball or other toys or in incidents involving tricycles being struck by motor vehicles or going into swimming pools. Also, in 2004, an estimated 161,100 children were treated for toy-related injuries in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.

CPSC recommends using the following tips to help choose appropriate toys for children:

- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.

- For infants, toddlers and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard.

- Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly-secured eyes, noses and other potential small parts.

- For all children under 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.

- Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under 8.

- Be a label reader. Look for toy labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide.

- Check toy instructions for clarity – for both you and, when appropriate, the child.

- Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys, which can cause suffocation, before they become deadly playthings.

Consumers who have already purchased gifts should make sure they check that their gift lists do not include any of the recalled toys or children's products on CPSC's Web site. Check for product recalls on CPSC's Web site at www.cpsc.gov. At the Web site, consumers can keep up-to-date on dangerous products by signing up to have recall announcements sent directly to their email account. Choose to receive all recall announcements or just 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