For many, after the Thanksgiving feast is eaten and the dishes cleared, the shopping begins. Parents and grandparents, including many of the members of our San Francisco injury law firm, search for the perfect gift to bring a smile to a child’s face and provide hours of fun in the year to come. While fun (and good deals!) is crucial, shoppers should also keep toy safety in mind as they shop for the holiday season ahead.
Toy Injury Statistics
Safe Kids USA, a nonprofit coalition aimed at preventing unintentional childhood injuries, provides a Toy Safety Fact Sheet that examines the problem of toy-related injuries. Per their research, since the year 2000, an average of 168,000 children (age fourteen and under) annually have needed emergency room treatment due to a toy-related injury. Half of these cases involve children under age five, with emergency room treatment for those young children totaling $385 million in 2001 alone. Additionally, since 2000, an average of twenty children have died each year due to a toy-related incident. While this is a small number compared to the three billion toys and games sold annually, even one accident is too many – especially when the victim is a child in your own life.
Toy Safety Tips
The United States Public Interest Research Group provides a useful tip sheet detailing some of the most common toy-related hazards. Some important dangers to keep in mind when shopping for toys:
• Choking – Choking is the number one cause of toy-related death. For children under three, avoid any toys with parts that are too small to fit through a toilet paper tube. Look for warnings on labels since manufacturers are required to warn of small parts on any toy aimed at ages three through six. Balloons and small balls (like rubber bouncing balls) are also a major choking hazard.
• Strangulation – Cords can get trapped on furniture or other items and strangle a child. Avoid products with cords or cut/remove them. In addition to toys, clothing and other products like mobiles and blinds can pose a strangulation danger.
• Magnets – Building toys, jewelry, and other products can include small, powerful magnets. Even a single magnet is dangerous if swallowed, but the danger grows if a child swallows two or more magnets which can lead to internal damage due to the magnetic attraction.
• “Button” Batteries – Small batteries are used in watches and many electronic toys and games. If a child swallows a battery, the acid can lead to severe, permanent injury and even death.
• Lead/Toxins – U.S. manufacturers have phased out lead and other toxins from toys, but older items (such as those purchased second-hand or passed down from family members) may can include dangerous chemicals. Toys imported from countries with more lax standards may also contain toxic chemicals. In addition to lead, toxic phthalates in PVC plastics pose a particular danger and may cause developmental disorders. Home tests for lead are available.
• Noise – Noise is a less recognized danger, but an important issue to consider because young ears are more vulnerable to damage. If the toy seems too loud to an adult, it is most likely too loud for a child. PIRG recommends removing batteries or placing tape over speakers to prevent hearing damage.
Representing Injured Children in Northern California
Accidents can happen, even in the most prepared home. Childhood injuries can cause a myriad of expenses, including costs associated with the lifelong impact of an early injury. If your child is injured by a dangerous toy, you may be able to file a claim on their behalf in civil court against the manufacturer and/or seller. Please call our San Francisco product liability firm for help protecting your child’s rights.
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