Articles Posted in Toy Recalls and Safety

Fidget spinner missing a piece in boy's hands

Fidget spinners have been one of the most popular gifts of 2017, but the small pieces can fall out and cause a child to choke.

By now, the children in your life have probably sent you their holiday toy wish lists. But just as important is the holiday “don’t buy” list.

W.A.T.C.H. released nominees for its “10 Worst Toys of 2017” list in mid-November, leading with Hallmark’s “Ittys Bitty” Baby Stacking Toy. This toy was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in August. The fabric hats and bows on the Disney characters can detach and cause a young child to choke. This toy also has no safety warnings or age recommendations.

Toy 2: Tolo’s Tug Along Pony. This toy is marketed for children 12 months and older. It has a 19-inch cord, which is permitted for pull-along toys. But W.A.T.C.H. says this toy poses a strangulation hazard and does not carry any safety warnings.

Toy 3: The Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword. This toy is recommended for children age 6 and up. Before you buy, note that the sword is large and sharp enough to cause facial or impact injuries. The packaging also gets a failing grade. It encourages children to “fight alongside men in a war to end all wars.”

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Britax stroller which was recalled in February 2017As Spring approaches, parents will be reaching for outdoor toys and children’s equipment. Baby strollers are one of the first products to come out.

Before you use a stroller, check for loose or worn parts. Then find out if the stroller has been subject to a product recall or caused injury. You can check online now on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Baby Stroller Recalls. We started with baby strollers because there have been several baby strollers recalled in the past year, including Britax, Aria Child and Phil & Teds strollers. Britax has actually issued two sets of recalls over the past 15 months, one for 60,000 strollers in January 2016 and another for more than 700,000 strollers in February 2017.

toy-shopping

Many of us will shop for a child this holiday season. Do your homework first, so you purchase gifts which are both safe and fun to use.

Each year, children and young adults are seriously injured or killed while playing with dangerous and defective toys. We should be able to trust that the toys we purchase from reputable stores are safe, but that is not always the case. In 2015, there were an estimated 185,500 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries and 11 deaths to children younger than 15 years old, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Riding toys, specifically non-motorized scooters, were associated with the most toy-related injuries.

Before you shop, here are a few tips:

Check out the CPSC recall page. Check the recall page before you shop. You can search for a specific toy, by manufacturer or in several different useful ways.

Read labels. Look for labels with age recommendations and follow them. If you shop online, double check the age recommendation and other labels once you receive the product box. What you see on the computer screen may not be what you actually receive.

Read the Top 10 Worst Toys 0f 2016 list. Take time to read this list and make sure not to buy any toy mentioned on it. Another toy to note: the Tonka 12V Ride-On Dump Truck. It has not been recalled, but Toys R Us has pulled it off shelves after one of the toys caught fire in Bellingham, Washington over the weekend.

No small pieces. Do not buy toys with small pieces for small children under three years old. Consider every part, even things such as small plastic eyes and noses on stuffed animals and dolls which could become loose.

Plastic film. If you purchase toys with mirrors or similar surfaces, remove the protective plastic film before giving the gift to a child. It is a choking hazard.

Avoid magnets. Do not purchase toys or adult gifts with small magnets. If a small child swallows two or more magnets, they attract in the stomach. Surgery may be required to remove the magnets and the child may suffer very serious complications. Thousands of children have these suffered these injuries and required surgeries. At least one child died in recent years, according to news stories.

The CPSC and companies have recalled many of the popular magnet toy sets in recent years, such as Buckyballs toys, and strengthened federal standards. But some are still sold. Steer clear of any product with small magnets. Once they are brought into a house, small pieces can fall under furniture or other areas and stay there for years until they are discovered by a child. They are hard to thoroughly clean up.

Electrical toys. Children should use toys with electrical components under adult supervision and follow age recommendations. Before you buy an electrical toy, check with a child’s parents to see if it is appropriate.

Cords and strings. Do not buy toys with long strings for infants and young children. A child can wrap a long string around his or her own neck and strangle themselves.

Batteries. Do not purchase toys which operate with small circle button batteries.

Balloons. Children can suffocate from balloons and the CPSC advises against letting children younger than 8 play with balloons. One risk is a child can swallow a balloon or suck it in while blowing it up. After the balloon pops, a child can also choke on the broken pieces.
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Each year, the 10 Worst Toys list is released to help holiday shoppers steer clear of unsafe toys. This year, the authors warn shoppers about everything from trampolines, popular movie toys and playsets which have small choking hazards.

The annual list is compiled by W.A.T.C.H. This year’s list includes:

Skipit’s Wheely Cute Pull Along
Every child loves a cute puppy, but this toy has hub caps which come off the wheels and pose choking hazards for young children. This product is marketed to children six months and older and is made by Bunnies By The Bay. Certain lots of this product were actually recalled on June 16, 2015. However, W.A.T.C.H. reported a similar toy was purchased online after the recall, so this risk may still be on the market.

Foam Dart Gun
This gun is manufactured by G.D. Jiefeng Toys and is marketed to children ages 3 and up. It is sold on Amazon.com and Ebay. W.A.T.C.H. says, “In today’s world, there is no excuse for outfitting children with realistic toy weapons designed to produce potentially dangerous and unnecessary thrills. Existing regulations addressing the hazards associated with such ‘toys’ are inadequate.”

Stats 38″ Quick Folding Trampoline
Toys R Us manufactures and sells this trampoline, which is marketed to age 6 and older. Trampolines are associated with spinal cord injuries and this one even has a warning stating, “Landing on the head or neck can cause serious injury, paralysis, or death, even when landing in the middle of the bed.”

Splat X Smack Shot
This $10 toy looks fun, but it actually poses the potential for serious eye injuries to the child using the toy and others around him. The toy, which is made by Imperial Toy LLC, comes with ammunition with can fire up to 100 feet away. It is sold at Walmart, Amazon.com and Kmart.

Poo-Dough
This $4.99 toy was included in W.A.T.C.H.’s list because it only has an allergy notice on part of the packaging.

Kick Flipper
This is basically a plastic board marketed as a “skateboard without wheels.” The packaging shows pictures of children using the Kick Flipper as they would a skateboard, but they are not wearing helmets or safety gear.

Leonardo’s Electronic Stealth Sword
This toy can cause facial and other impact injuries. It is manufactured by Playmates international Company Ltd and marketed to children ages 4 and up. It is sold by Toys R Us, Amazon and Ebay.

Kid Connection Doctor Play Set
This $5 play set is sold at Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Ebay. It is recommended for children ages 2 and up, but includes a small “tongue depressor,” which is 4 ¾ inches in length and could cause a choking hazard.

Pull Along Zebra
This toy poses a strangulation risk. It has a 21-inch cord and is marketed for children 12 to 36 months old. The toy is made by Early Learning Centre and sold at Amazon.com, Kmart, Brookstone and Village Toy Shop. It carries this warning: “Remember babies and young children have no idea what is dangerous or potential harmful, so supervision is important…”

Jurassic Word Velociraptor Claws
This $19.99 toy is marketed to 4-year-olds who want to “claw like a raptor!” The packaging warns there is a choking hazard and small parts will be generated. There are no warnings about potential facial or eye injuries. The claws were manufactured by Hasbro and are sold by Target, Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart and Kohl’s.

Read more on the 10 Worst Toys of 2015 List.

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Before you shop, please check out the Worst Toys of 2014 list by W.A.T.C.H. Since last year, there have been at least 17 toy recalls in the U.S. and Canada, accounting for 5 million defective toys, reports the watchdog group which releases its list annually.

Shop carefully, even at familiar and trusted stores. Of course you should avoid the toys listed below. But make your own judgments on the safety of the toys you are considering. The main things to beware of are:

  • Marbles and small pieces
  • Sharp edges
  • Small magnets
  • Flimsy toy accessories or pieces which are loosely attached
  • Toys with strings (such as musical instruments and necklaces)
  • Toys which shoot sharp projectiles

Also, remember to buy toys which are age-appropriate, read the warnings on the toy box and watch out for toy packaging materials. Toys and many products come with an almost-invisible plastic lining on mirrors, digital screens and other pieces. Many also come with a lot of plastic wrap. These are all choking hazards and you should remove them before giving toys to children.

Here are the W.A.T.C.H. nominees for the “10 Worst Toys” of 2014.

1) Air Storm Firetek Bow
This toy is designed for children 8 years and older, but it shoots arrows up to 145 feet high in the air and can cause eye injuries. It has glow pieces and is marketed for day or night use, thought it warns against use in the “complete dark.” Finally, the packaging carries several other warnings, more than most people want when buying a toy. It sells for under $25 at Walmart and Amazon.com.

2) Radio Flyer Ziggle
Toy2.jpgThe seat on this bike is too low, just 8 inches off the ground, W.A.T.C.H. said. The bike’s packaging also features young children who are not wearing bike helmets, which puts them at risk for head injuries. The $39.99 bike is sold at Target, Toys R Us and Amazon.com and is recommended for children ages 3 to 8 years old.

3) Catapencil
This pencil is also a catapult. The packaging encourages children to enjoy target practice from their desktops and reads, “Because the pencil is mightier than the sword.” There are no safety warnings or age recommendations. This $3.99 toy is sold at Amazon.com, Ebay.com and Learning Express.

4) Alphabet Zoo Rock and Stack Pull Toy
This toy has a 20-inch cord, which is eight inches longer than industry safety standards. It creates a strangulation risk for young children and the manufacturer even warns parents about this risk on the packaging. This toy is sold for $19.99 at Amazon.com, Toys R Us and Magic Beans stores.

5) SWAT Electric Machine Gun
Junxing Toys Industrial Co. warns buyers on the packaging that its toy gun may be mistaken for an actual firearm by law enforcement officers and others. W.A.T.C.H. rightfully says there is “no excuse for outfitting children with realistic toy weapons designed to produce potentially dangerous and unnecessary thrills.” The recent killing of a 12-year old, who was carrying a toy gun mistaken in for a real gun, in Cleveland is a serious reminder of this risk.

6) Wooden Instruments
This toy is designed for children 12 months and older, but includes a 4 ½ inch long drumstick which children can mouth and get lodged in their airway. Additionally, there are no warnings on the toy, which is sold at Walmart.

7) Bottle Rocket Party
This toy makes use of projectiles which can strike and injure a child. There are safety goggles advertised on the packaging, but they are not packed in the box. This toy by Norman & Globus is recommended for children age 8 and older and is sold for $14.99 at Walmart.com, Amazon.com and the Village Toy Shop.

8) Lil’ Cutesies – Best Friends
Toy8.jpgWhile advertised as the “perfect friend for your little one,” this toy is dangerous, according to the W.A.T.C.H. report. The decorative bow can detach from the doll’s head and pose a choking hazard. The toy is designed for children age 2 and older. It is sold for $7.99 or less at Kmart, Toysrus.com and Amazon.com.

9) True Legends Orcs Battle Hammer
This hammer is marketed to children as young as 3 years old, yet it comes with a hammer which stretches nearly 2 feet. Do not look for safety warnings and instructions–there are none! It is distributed by Toys R Us and sold at stores for under $15.

10) Colored Hedgehog
The hedgehog’s hair can be easily pulled out, posing a risk for ingestion and aspiration injuries, W.A.T.C.H. says. This infant toy is sold for $10.99 at Toys R Us.

Read the full Worst Toys of 2014 list. Photo credit on this blog: W.A.T.C.H. and the Worst Toys of 2014 report.
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20141124_holidayshopping.jpgReady or not, the holiday shopping season begins in earnest this week. Enjoy shopping for loved ones, but remember to buy with caution, especially when selecting toys and products used by young children. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled millions of unsafe toys this year, and also many of the most basic children’s products, including car seats, strollers and furniture. Shoppers should closely examine every purchase. Here are a few holiday shopping tips:

Check for recalls. Search the CPSC database to see if a specific product has been recalled. You can also search by company.

Here are some of the important ones to remember:

Graco Recalls. Graco recalled millions of car seats earlier this year because of sticky-buckles which were trapping children in the seats. Just last week, it also recalled 4.7 million defective strollers which can cause finger amputation. Graco recalled the 11 stroller models after 10 fingertip amputations and one finger laceration. The strollers were sold from 2010 until earlier this month at a number of retailers, including Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, Amazon.com and Walmart.com. Read the recall notice.

Furniture Recalls. Common home furniture also caused child injuries this year. In August, Ace Bayou recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after two children unzipped them, crawled inside and suffocated to death. Anyone with one of these defective chairs should call the company for a repair kit to disable the zipper.

Another serious recall impacted in Massachusetts. Earlier in the year, Lane furniture renewed its recall of wooden cedar chests after two children in Franklin became trapped in one and suffocated. The children had apparently been playing hide-and-seek and became locked inside. The company first recalled the chests in 1996, but millions of the defective chests are believed to still be in use without the necessary repair.

In the Massachusetts case, the children’s family is believed to have bought the used chest at a second-hand store more than a decade ago. Second-hand sales are challenging to regulate, as are families and friends who pass along used products to each other. This makes it important to know the characteristics of an unsafe product as well as specific products which have been recalled.

Buy age-appropriate. Read the age recommendation on toys and children’s products. Consider a child’s family. If you are buying for a child with younger siblings, buy something which is safe for all ages in the household.

Be careful buying online. After a product is recalled, it is against the law to sell it in stores or online. But some auction and online listing websites do not police private sellers closely. Avoid these sites when holiday shopping for children.

If you purchase through a merchant website such as Amazon.com, make sure you receive the right product and that it has the same age appropriate label and pieces as shown online.

Beware of suffocation and choking hazards. Avoid balloons, marbles and toys with small pieces which children can put in their mouth. Also avoid small magnets. Remember these things come with many toys, but they also come from other gifts and products that enter a home. For instance, the magnet desk sets which were so popular many years ago for adults turned out to be extremely dangerous for children. In some cases with the Buckyball magnet sets (which have been recalled), children found small magnets years after families brought the set into their home in hard-to-reach places, such as under a couch. Our point is: Please consider every gift carefully.
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carseat-010314.jpgThis is National Child Passenger Safety Week, when parents can get answers to common questions about driving safely with their children.

National Child Passenger Safety Week began last weekend and is observed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and local communities. It ends this weekend with National Seat Check Saturday.

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death for children in the United States. Child safety seats reduce the risk for injury if they are used properly, by more than 70 percent when it comes to infants and more than 50 percent for children age 1 to 4. But parents have long struggled with how to use them. In one study, more than 70 percent of 3,500 observed car and booster seats were misused in a way that could harm children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Parents should also closely examine their child safety seat models this year. Several months ago, Graco recalled more than 6 million child safety seats, the largest car seat recall in U.S. history. Parents reported they were unable to unbuckle defective harnesses and had to cut their children out of the straps. The cause was food was getting dried up in the harnesses and causing them to stick.

Child passenger safety laws have changed over the past decade and every state now has a law for infants and children-fitting specific criteria. All but two (Florida and South Dakota) require booster seats for older children. The Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law requires children to ride in federally-approved child passenger safety seats that are properly secured until they are eight years old or over 57 inches tall.

Despite laws for older children, Safe Kids, a national non-profit organization, has released a new report, showing 7 in 10 parents did not know a child should be at least 57 inches or 4’9″ tall before they ride in a car without a booster seat. The organization surveyed 1,000 adults.

A few resources on child safety seats:

Check Your Car Seat Label. Become informed about the specifics of car seats. Make sure yours fits your child’s weight, size and age. For infants through age two, look for a rear-facing child safety seat. For children between ages 2 -4 or up to 40 pounds, choose a forward facing child safety seat. From age 4 to 8 or 57 inches, children should ride in belt positioning booster seats. Read more.

Car Safety Seat Checklist for Parents. Safe Kids has developed this checklist for parents.

Register Your Car Seat. Here is a resource from the NHTSA on registering your car seats with the manufacturer. This will allow the manufacturer to contact you if there is a defect.

Used Car Seat Safety Checklist. Here is a resource from the NHTSA on using used child safety seats.

Community Events. Some organizations offer free car seat safety inspections this weekend as part of National Seat Check Saturday and allow parents to make appointments with trained professionals throughout the year. Here is a directory of locations or you can contact your local police department to ask about resources in your community.
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More than two million bean bag chairs have been recalled after heartbreaking accidents in which children suffocated and died.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced last week that Ace Bayou Corp. of New Orleans, Louisiana has voluntary recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs, including both traditional and L-shaped bean bag chairs.

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The bean bag chairs have zippers which can easily be opened, a violation of the CPSC’s voluntary standard. Children can crawl inside, become entrapped and suffocate from lack of air or choke on the chair’s foam beads.

Prompting the recall were the deaths of a 12-year-old boy from Texas and a 3-year-old girl from Kentucky. The children were found inside bean bag chairs after suffocating. The boy’s mother told the media that the bean bag chair had been in her son’s room for years and she never thought he would climb inside.

The CPSC instructs consumers to check for these bean bag chairs in their homes. For the full list of recalled models, see the end of this blog.

The chairs have two zippers. Consumers can contact Ace Bayou for a free repair kit to permanently disable the zippers. Consumers should take chairs which can be unzipped away from children.

The defective products were sold at Bon-Ton, Meijer, Pamida, School Speciality, Wayfair and Walmart and online at Amazon.com, Meijer.com and Walmart.com. They were sold prior to July 2013 for $30-$100.

Another option is to simply remove these products from your home altogether. Call Ace Bayou and ask them how to safely dispose the product. (Remember, you should never give someone a recalled product or resell it to anyone. Reselling a recalled product is against federal law.)

Bean bag chairs have a history of injuring children. In the 1990s, the CPSC received reports that 5 children died from suffocation inside bean bag chairs and 27 were injured but recovered. It then launched an industry investigation and recalled 12 million bean bag chairs. More than a dozen manufacturers were involved in that recall effort.

More Recall Information

CPSC Recall Notice

Ace Bayou Recall Page
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ikea-light.jpgParents who shop at IKEA should be aware of a far-reaching product recall involving a children’s lamp which has been blamed for a 16-month-old’s death.

On Dec. 11, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of IKEA children’s wall mounted lamps sold from July 1999 through May 2013. A total of 23 million of the SMILA-series wall mounted lamps were sold around the world. Of these, 2.9 million were sold in the United States and 1.1 million in Canada.

The recall follows two tragic incidents in Europe. In one case, a 16-month-old child in a crib died after becoming entangled in the lamp’s cord. In another incident, a 15-month-old became entangled in the cord and was nearly strangled.

Consumers are instructed to stop using the recalled lamp and contact IKEA for a free repair kit.

The lamps were recalled by IKEA North America, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. IKEA is a Swedish company which sells home furniture. The company has 340 IKEA stores in 42 countries. The company has 38 stores in the United States, including one on Route 24 in Stoughton, which opened in 2005. This is the only Massachusetts IKEA store.

The defective wall lamps were sold in eight designs through IKEA’s stores, catalog and ikea-usa.com for between $10 and $13.

What Consumers Should Know
Here is the IKEA lamp recall notice. The lamp was sold in eight designs, including a blue star, yellow moon, pink flower, white flower, red heart, green bug, blue seashells and an orange horse. The lamps are about 11 inches by 11 inches and have a seven-foot long electrical cord. Model numbers are included in the recall notice.

Parents who contact IKEA for a repair kit will be given self-adhesive fasteners to attach the lamp’s cord to the walls along with safety instructions.

Recalls Related to Children
Each year, the CPSC announces recalls dozens of dangerous toys. For 2012, the agency estimates that toy-related injuries resulted in 192,000 visits to U.S. hospital emergency rooms.

The dangers poorly made toys can pose is well known and always in the spotlight around the holiday shopping season. But the public often overlooks the dangers in other children’s products, which are often used even more frequently than toys. In 2013, a number of defective children’s products were recalled, including bunk beds which posed an entrapment risk, children’s utensils, children’s hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings, pajamas and baby strollers. See the link below to learn more.

Related
Summary of 2013 product recalls, Safe Kids Worldwide

IKEA Recalls Children’s Wall-Mounted Lamps Due to Strangulation Hazard; One Child Death Reported, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
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toysafety-2013list-200.jpgThe World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. has released its 41st annual “10 Worst Toys” list. This year, the Boston-based non-profit nominated toys which posed a choking hazard, had improper labeling and several “toy weapons,” including toy guns, sling shots and boomerangs.

The report said, “These toys, that resemble real weaponry, have no place in the hands of children. Evidence of the potential for tragedy is the recent death of a thirteen-year-old boy in Santa Rose, CA, who was fatally shot by a police officer who mistook his toy gun for a real weapon.”

In one case, the World Against Toys Causing Harm (or W.A.T.C.H.) caught a vendor selling slingslots on Amazon.com. Massachusetts law prohibits sale of slingshots and New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington have similar laws.

W.A.T.C.H. urged consumers to be vigilant even if they are purchasing toys from a well-known brand name. It stated there have been 29 toy recalls in the past 12 months, which included over one million units of unsafe and defective toys in the United States and Canada. Of these, 20 recalls were initiated for toys which posed choking and ingestion risks.

This year’s list includes:

1) Army Force Automatic Rifle
Hazard: Realistic toy weaponry and inconsistent age recommendations on labeling and Amazon.com.

2) Big Rock & Roll Ball Pit
Hazard: Potential for impact injuries because children as young as 3-years-old are encouraged to climb inside a rolling, inflatable ball. W.A.T.C.H. also criticizes the package, which shows children playing with no parental supervision.

3) Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword
Hazard: Potential for impact and facial injuries.

4) Disney Princess Backpack Fishing Kit
Hazard: Potential for chemical ingestion injuries. The cardboard insert warns the play item may contain lead which may be harmful if eaten or chewed.

5) Black Widow Folding Slingshot
Hazard: Potential for serious bodily injuries. Illegal to sell in Massachusetts and three other states. On Amazon.com, the product carried a “for 6 months and up” age recommendation.

6) Little Drummer
Hazard: Potential for ingestion and choking hazards. The drum is sold for babies as young as 12-months-old and the drumstick could block a child’s airway.

7) Boomerang “Throw & Catch”
Hazard: Boomerangs should not be sold to children of any age. Online toy recommendations and those on the package were also inconsistent. Online, the boomerang was recommended for children 16 months and up versus on the package, which stated it was not for children under 3 years.

8) Disney Baby Snow White
Hazard: Potential for choking hazards. The toy is marketed for children 2 years old and up, but has small detachable pieces, such as hair accessories.

9) Nerf N-Strike Jolt Blaster
Hazard: This toy is marketed for children age 8 and older. It has a dart which can be shot and potentially cause eye injuries. On the Hasbro website, the product description reads “Hide it in your pocket to maneuver in close to your enemy, then pull down the cocking handle to ready your shot. Pull the trigger and reload fast to win the day!”

10) The Spooner-Freestyle
Hazard: Potential for head and other impact injuries. This toy resembles a skateboard without wheels and is marketed for children age 3 and older. It does not mention use of safety gear and none is worn by children on the packaging.

Related:
10 Worst Toys of 2013, W.A.T.C.H.

Trouble in Toyland, U.S. PIRG.
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