Release date: November 20, 2014
Release number: 15-033

Release Details

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Health Canada and the Consumer Protection Agency of the United Mexican States (Profeco) are joining forces this year to protect children across North America from dangerous toys.  Strong safety standards that are enforced, inspections at import, and emphasis on quality safety manufacturing overseas are key components of this collaborative effort aimed at creating a safer toy shopping marketplace for North America’s families this holiday season.

With more than $800 million worth of toys, games, and children’s vehicles coming from Canada and Mexico into the United States each year, there is good reason for CPSC to continue to work  closely—bilaterally and trilaterally—with Health Canada and Profeco. Products produced in or imported from outside North America can find their way into another jurisdiction through our extensive shared borders. 

This trilateral work on greater integration has led to joint industry training and coordinated consumer education, including trilateral recall announcements. Additional efforts have included joint oversight of product supply chains and timely responses to emerging product hazards.

 “We are all working together this holiday season with one goal in mind- that the toys North America’s parents bring home for their children are safe.” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. “Our work with Health Canada and Profeco will continue to strengthen the marketplace and build consumer confidence in the safety of the North American marketplace, especially for children’s toys.”

The Government of Canada is committed to working cooperatively with the U.S. and Mexico to promote awareness of a number of product safety issues, including the safe selection and use of toys," said Wai Young, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South.

“Children are the most vulnerable consumers.  This forum is the most suitable framework to seek appropriate regulatory mechanisms,” said Lorena Martínez Rodríguez, Profeco’s Federal Consumer Attorney. “The trilateral effort demonstrates our commitment to promote responsible consumption and to work for the safety of vulnerable consumers.”

In addition to working with Health Canada and Profeco, CPSC works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to keep violative products off of store shelves and out of consumers’ homes. In the past 6 years, CPSC and CBP have stopped more than 11 million units of about 3,600 different toys that violated applicable standards from coming into the United States.

In fiscal year 2014, toy recalls remained low, with 30 toy recalls, one of which involved a lead violation. This compares to 172 toy recalls in fiscal year 2008, 19 of which were due to excessive lead content. The majority of toy recalls announced last year involved ingestion hazards, as well as mechanical hazards that pose a threat of injury to children. 

Toy-related deaths involving children younger than 15 years old continue to decrease from 19 deaths in 2010, to 18 in 2011, 16 in 2012, and nine in 2013 (based on reports, to date). As more death reports are received, CPSC staff expects the total for 2013 to be higher than nine.

The majority of the toy-related fatalities in 2013 were attributed to asphyxiation or choking; six of the nine fatalities were from choking on small parts, such as parts of toy figures, a rubber ball, balloon, plastic toy food and a marble. Additional deaths resulted from riding toys, including an incident in which a child was hit by a truck while riding on a scooter.        

A new report released today by CPSC, estimates that there were 188,400 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2013 to children younger than 15 years, down from last year’s 192,000.  Many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy. For example, CPSC received these hospital emergency-room treated reports last year:

• An 11-year-old girl was killed in a scooter incident after being hit by the left rear wheel of a vehicle.

• A 21-month-old girl was found floating unresponsive in an in-ground pool.  The victim’s toy stroller was lying underwater at the bottom of the pool and it appeared that the victim was pushing her play stroller when she fell into the pool.  The victim died later in a hospital.

Here are some safety tips for consumers to keep in mind this holiday season:

• Magnets – Children's magnetic toys are covered by a strong safety standard that prevents magnets from being swallowed. High-powered magnet sets that have small magnets are dangerous and should be kept away from children. Whether marketed for children or adults, building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children. 

• Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard torn balloons immediately. 

• Small balls and other toys with small parts - For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking. 

• Scooters and other riding toys - Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit. 

Once gifts are open:

• Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings. 

• Battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.