Would you gift wrap a plaything that might be hazardous to a child?
Would you examine a toy to see how it might possibly hurt a child if it were broken during play - or by its misuse?
A toy truck, a bean-bag doll, or perhaps an airplane launcher? Such toys need not be considered harmful as children's playthings. But each of these types, and a variety of others, may need to be examined carefully to see if they could present a possible danger to a young child.
All toys and playthings should be examined regularly for any signs of deterioration or weakness.
Consider the following:
A two-year-old is playing with his four-year-old brother's plastic truck. A tug-of-war ensues between the two, the older child having the stronger grasp. The truck is cracked and the front part comes off. The younger child runs away, falling with the broken portion he carries. His lower lip is lacerated by the sharp brittle plastic edge and requires hospital treatment.
A little girl playing with a bean-bag doll, with a loosened seam, picks it apart. Out comes a bean which she plops into her mouth. She chokes on it.
A five-year-old boy is hit in the eye by a projectile launched from a spring-operated airplane launcher set off by a six-year-old. The five-year-old suffers internal bleeding in the eye and is hospitalized.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has the following suggestions:
When buying, choose toys that suit the skills and abilities of the child. Avoid toys too complex for young children.
Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations such as "Recommended for Children Three to Five Years", or for the proper age for your child. Look for "Non Toxic" labels, especially on painted toys, and for "Flame-retardant/Flame resistant" on fabric products and "Washable hygienic materials" on stuffed animals and dolls.
Look for quality in design and construction in all toy products. Read all instructions. Are they clear to you ? Would they be understandable for the child?
Watch out for toys that may have sharp edges, small parts or sharp points.
Avoid toys that produce extremely loud noises that could damage a child's hearing and toys that propel/project objects that can injure eyes.
For maintenance - Check all toys periodically for signs of breakage and potential hazards. A broken toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.
Edges on wooden toys that may have become sharp or surfaces which may have splinters should be sanded smooth.
Do not use paint containing lead when repainting toys and toy boxes.
Examine all outdoor toys or playthings regularly for signs of rust or for weakened or sharp parts that could be hazardous.
For storage - Teach children to put their toys away safely on shelves or in toy chests or drawers after playing. Toy chests should be checked for safety also. Use a toy chest that has a lightweight lid that can be opened easily from within. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air. Check for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch or squeeze.
A word on electrical toys - those that are improperly constructed or wired, and those that are misused can shock or burn children. Electrical toys must meet mandatory requirements governing their surface temperatures and electrical construction and they must bear prominent warning labels. Electrical toys with heating elements should not be given to children under the age of eight. And all electrical toys should be used only with close adult supervision.
The CPSC offers a number of publications on toy safety. In general, ten copies or less of fact sheets and most other publications listed below can be obtained free of charge by writing the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207. These publications may also be requested through the toll-free CPSC Hotline at 800/638-2772. More than 10 copies are available for sale from: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. GPO's stock number and price follow in parentheses after each publication listing.
The following is a list of CPSC toy safety publications:
* Bill's Eye (Poster) (#052-011-00092-2; $2.65 for 25 copies)
* Electrically Operated Toys (Fact Sheet No. 61) (#052-011-00059-l; $2.65 for 50 copies)
For Kids' Sake...Think Toy Safety (Illustrated Pamphlet) (#052-011-00133-3; $2.40 for 60 copies) Also in Spanish
For Kids' Sake...Think Toy Safety (Coloring Book) (#052-011-00134-1; $5.00 for 25 copies)Also in Spanish
For Kids' Sake...Think Toy Safety-Adult Discussion Guide (Booklet with mini-posters) (#052-011-00148-l; $2.40 for one copy)
For Kids' Sake...Think Toy Safety (Poster) (#052-011-00091-4; $2.85 for 25 copies)
Little Leon the Lizard-Classroom Activities Guide for the Teacher (Booklet with Poster Insert) (#052-003-00293-l; $.70 for one copy)
Little Leon the Lizard - Toy Safety Curriculum (Booklet) (#052-003-00292-2; $.60 for one copy)
Safe Use of Electrical Toys(Illustrated Pamphlet) (#052-011-00004-3; $2.50 for 50 copies)
* Toys (Fact Sheet No. 47) (#052-011-00127-9; $2.75 for 50 copies)
Items marked with an asterisk are no longer available from CPSC. Copies are available at listed prices from the Government Printing Office.
About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years.
Federal law prohibits any person from selling products subject to a Commission ordered recall or a voluntary recall undertaken in consultation with the CPSC.
For lifesaving information: