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CPSC'S Toy Safety Tips For The Holidays

Release Date: November 18, 1993

With the holiday shopping now in full swing, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today issued its annual toy safety tips for consumer use during the holidays and throughout the new year. In issuing these tips, CPSC Chairman Jacqueline Jones-Smith said, ""Toys are meant to be fun. The Commission also wants toys to be safe. By following a few simple, yet vital toy safety tips, consumers can help assure that the toys given to children this holiday season will meet both of these objectives.""

The CPSC's toy safety tips are divided into four categories:


-Select toys to suit the age, skills, interests, and abilities of the individual child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children. Under CPSC regulations, toys intended for children under 8 years cannot have sharp points or edges; additionally, toys intended for children under age 3 cannot have small parts that could cause a choking hazard. 

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

     * For infants, avoid toys with strings or cords that are 7 inches or longer as they may cause strangulation. 

     * For all children under 8 years, avoid toys that have sharp points or edges and electric toys with heating elements.

-Look for sturdy construction, e.g., tightly secured eyes, nose or any small parts.

-Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide. Toys labeled as not recommended for children under 3 years may contain small parts which may pose a choking hazard to young children.

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

-If buying arrows or darts for children (not under 5 years), make sure they have soft tips, rubber suction cups or other protective tips. Check to be sure tips are secure.

-If buying a toy gun, be sure the barrel, or the entire gun, is brightly colored to avoid being mistaken as a real gun.

-If buying caps for cap guns, look for the label required by Federal law to be on boxes or packages of caps which states: "Warning--Do not fire closer than one foot to the ear. Do not use indoors."

-Discard plastic wrappings on toys immediately, before they become deadly playthings.


-Set "ground rules" for play.

-Supervise young children closely during play.

-Teach children how to use toys properly and safely.

-Instruct older children to keep their toys away from little ones. Chemistry sets, hobby items, and toys with small parts, particularly games, can be extremely dangerous if used by children younger than the intended age.

-Keep children who are playing with riding toys away from stairs, hills, traffic, and swimming pools.

-Insist that children wear helmets when using bicycles, skateboards, or in-line roller skates.

-Insist that children wear gloves, wrist, elbow, and knee pads when using skateboards or in-line roller skates.


-Inspect old and new toys regularly for jagged or sharp edges, or broken parts that might constitute a choking hazard. Make repairs immediately or discard out of reach of children.

-Avoid hand-me-down toys with small parts for children under 3 years.


-Teach children to put their toys safely away after playing to prevent trips and falls. Many accidents occur when toys are left out causing someone to fall.

-If containers other than toy chests are used for storage purposes, they should be fitted with spring-loaded support devices if they have a hinged lid to avoid entrapment and suffocation.

Of the 54 million children under age 15 in the United States who play with billions of toys, an estimated 143,000 children were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 1992 for toy-related injuries -- avoidable injuries that were mostly minor and were incidental to the toy. These injuries were due largely to children falling over, being hit by, or bumping into toys.

In Fiscal Year 1993, the Commission obtained the recall or detention of 18.6 million units of toys and other childrens products. The detentions and some recalls were obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Customs Service. A complete list of the 185 models of products this represents is available upon request. For a free copy of this list send a postcard to: Recall List, Washington, DC 20207; or call 301-504-7908.

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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.

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