CPSC Releases Toy Safety Tips for Holiday Shoppers

November 23, 1999
Release Number: 00021

As the holiday season approaches, CPSC) urges gift-givers to keep safety in mind when choosing toys for young children. In 1998, CPSC received reports of 14 toy-related deaths and estimates that more than 120,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries.

"Toys are an important part of holiday gift-giving, and CPSC is on the job 365 days a year to make sure toys are as safe as possible," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "CPSC's goal is to prevent deaths and injuries; unfortunately, each year some children are hurt by toys. By always reading labels and being safety conscious, parents and caregivers can help prevent toy-related injuries."

CPSC requires labels to be on all toys marketed for children from 3 years old up to 6 years old if the toys pose a choking hazard to children under age 3. These labels tell consumers two critical things: That a toy is not safe for younger children and why it is not safe. Before CPSC issued these labeling requirements, it was more difficult for consumers to know that certain toys they bought for older children could be a danger to younger kids.

CPSC has the most stringent toy safety standards in the world, and toys on store shelves are safer because of the day-to-day compliance work by CPSC. In fiscal year 1999, CPSC obtained 95 toy and children's product recalls involving about 60 million product units to help prevent tragic injuries and deaths. CPSC obtained some of the largest toy recalls in the agency's history, including more than 10 million ride-on battery powered vehicles, more than 10 million toy basketball set nets, and more than 19 million dive sticks.

The following tips will help consumers choose appropriate toys this holiday season and all year round:

- 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 age 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.

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

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

- Check instructions for clarity. They should be clear to you, and when appropriate, to the child.

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

By using common sense and these safety suggestions, holiday shoppers can make informed decisions when purchasing toys for children.