Valdosta Daily Times

Business

December 2, 2012

Dangerous toys smash Christmas spirit

VALDOSTA — You better watch out, you better not cry, but if your kids are, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town ... possibly with some questionable merchandise.

World Against Toys Causing Harm recommends 10 toys that shouldn’t be under the tree this Christmas. They are:

1. Magnetic Fishing Game by Kole imports can be a choking hazard.

2. Bongo Ball by Toys R' Us includes confusing warnings regarding adult supervision.

3. Dart Zone QuickFire 12 dart gun by Prime Time Toys can cause eye injuries and poses a choking hazard.

4. Spinner Shark 4-wheel Kneeboard by Fuzion is a low-profile toy that can be dangerous outside near or on a street.

5. Explore & Learn Helicopter by VTech includes a 24-inch cord that can cause crib or playpen injuries.

6. N-Force Vendetta Double Sword by Hasbro is a four-foot plastic sword that has the potential to cause facial or other impact injuries.

7. Water Balloon Launcher by Water Sports, LLC., can shoot water balloons up to 75 miles per hour and can cause facial injury or damage.

8. Power Rangers Super Samurai Helmet by Bandai includes a crown made of pointed, rigid plastic tips with the potential for puncture wounds.

9. Playful Xylophone by P’kolino poses a choking hazard with its small drumstick.

10. The Avengers Gamma Green Smash Fists by Hasbro include no warnings or cautions but has been known to cause impact injuries.

This year’s 2012 “10 Worst Toys” list  marks the 40th annual list released by WATCH, an advocacy organization headed by consumer advocates James A. Swartz and nationally known trial attorney Joan E. Siff.

“Parents and caregivers need to know what dangers to look for when they purchase toys for children this holiday season and year-round,” according to a press release from WATCH.

There have been many deaths and injuries to children as a result of poorly designed and tested toys, according to WATCH.

In the 12-month period since WATCH’s 2011 “10 Worst Toys” conference, there have been at least 16 toy recalls representing nearly 500,000 units of dangerous toys in the United States and Canada.

WATCH’s “10 Worst Toys” list is a hands-on tool for consumers which attempts to raise awareness of the different types of hazards to avoid while toy shopping.

While many parents of young children read the warning labels on toys, the Internet has posed a new, modern-day challenge.

WATCH claims many of the toys displayed and available to purchase online have retailer warnings and age recommendations that are inconsistent with those supplied by manufacturers. In some cases, the warnings may be omitted from the Internet description completely.

“Such omissions and inconsistencies regarding important safety information can lead to misinformed, and potentially dangerous, consumer purchases,” stated the WATCH press release.

Here are some tips on how to buy safe toys and prevent injuries, according to HealthyChildren.org, powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

1. Read the label. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and what ages the toy is safe for. Be sure to show your child how to use the toy the right way.

2. Think large. Make sure all toys and parts are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking.

3. Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air. They can cause serious eye

injuries or choking.

4. Avoid toys that are loud to prevent damage to your child’s hearing.

5. Look for stuffed toys that are well made. Make sure all the parts are on tight and seams and edges are secure. It should also be machine washable. Take off any loose ribbon or strings to avoid strangulation. Avoid toys that have small, bean-like pellets for stuffing that can cause choking or suffocation.

6. Buy plastic toys that are sturdy. Toys made from thin plastic may break easily.

7. Avoid toys with toxic materials that could cause poisoning. Make sure the label reads “nontoxic.”

8. Avoid hobby kits and chemistry sets for any child younger than 12 years old. They can cause fires or explosions and may contain dangerous chemicals. Make sure your older child knows how to safely handle these kind of toys.

9. Electric toys should be “UL Approved.” Check the label to be sure.

10. Be careful when buying crib toys. Strings or wires that hang in the crib should be kept short to avoid strangulation. Crib toys should be removed as soon as your child can push up on their hands and knees.

The moral of this story is that just because a toy makes it onto the shelf, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe. Use common sense and caution, and make sure you inspect toys thoroughly before giving them to children.

Visit www.ToySafety.org for more information about WATCH and more toy hazards to watch out for this holiday season.

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