Articles Tagged with “toy safety”

We urge parents to keep magnet toys off your holiday shopping list for young children. High-powered “rare-earth” desk magnet toys are highly dangerous and there are many painful stories of children ingesting them, then fighting for their lives in surgery. But there are also other types of magnet toys, including magnet tile building sets and magnet construction toys. While these are very popular, this doesn’t mean they are safe for your family. Take time to do your research, read age recommendations and really consider your children’s needs.
Magnet Desk Toys or Cluster Magnet Toys
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Magnet Desk Toys or Cluster Magnet Toys
Tile Magnet Toys
Magnetic Construction Sets
Final Word on Safety

Magnet Desk Toys or Cluster Magnet Toys

Desktop magnet sets

Cross desktop magnet sets off your holiday shopping list. These have caused hundreds of children injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has worked to take desktop magnet toys off the market to prevent injuries to children. The problem is the average set has 125 or 216 strong magnet balls, though some have more than 1,000 pieces. The magnets are tiny and are extremely high-powered.

These magnet sets come apart and can be reassembled into unique shapes. In a child’s hands, the magnet clusters may become a necklace, triangle or whatever formation they imagine. When magnets are put in a child’s mouth, they can attract to each other, causing serious injuries in the digestive system as well as blood poisoning. Children usually require surgery for the intense pain.

New Magnet Safety Standard. Prior to 2014, “rare-earth” magnet sets were required to carry age recommendation labeling of 14 and older. In 2014, the CPSC established a federal toy safety standard which required magnets to be large enough to exceed the CPSC’s “small part” standard for toys or that magnetic parts have a force of attraction of 50 kG² mm² or less, according to the CPSC’s Final Rule: Safety Standards for Magnet Sets. The CPSC safety standard effectively made it illegal to sell “rare-earth” magnet sets in the U.S. and there was a positive response, an 80 percent reduction in magnet-ingested injuries, according to The Journal of Pediatrics.

You may guess young children are at the highest risk. But children age 4 through 12 suffered the most injuries in the CPSC’s analysis of ER visits over 5 years, from 2009 to 2013. According to the Federal Register dated October 3, 2014, the agency concluded an estimated 2,900 children had suffered magnet ingestion injuries. Children age 4 through 12 suffered 1,900 injuries – or 65 percent.
Tile Magnet Toys
For all this work, in 2016, the 10th Circuit of Appeals ruled the CPSC’s pre-requisite factual findings were “incomplete and inadequately explained.” The Court vacated the safety standard and remanded it back to the CPSC for further proceedings.

The lawsuit had been filed by Zen Magnets, one of the “rare-earth” magnet makers. The company is now selling its products again, under the Buckyballs and Mandala names, according to Tech Crunch. Again, we stress, please don’t buy these toys, especially if you have children or a pet. The parts are small and scatter easily. If you don’t find our blog compelling, we encourage you to read this article in STAT, called “Toy magnets are harming kids again. They need to be banned – for good,” August 6, 2019.

Tile Magnet Toys

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Magnet tile toys

These are magnets encased in plastic triangle and square shapes. These are popular, marketed as toys that help stimulate learning and imagination. Some of these are designed for children under age 3, some for children ages 3 and up; others are for age 6 and up. If you do purchase one of these sets, carefully check the age recommendation and secure it in a container out of reach of children.

There has been at least one case of the encasements opening and a child swallowing magnets. Last December, a Wisconsin mother shared her frightening story on social media and the Today Show reported on it. The woman’s 4-year-old son had swallowed 13 magnets from one of the tile magnet kits. After he began vomiting, she rushed him to a local hospital where surgeons had to remove part of his colon, intestine and appendix. The product manufacturer was not identified in the story.

The CPSC regularly issues recalls about toys containing small magnet parts. One of the largest recalls involving tile magnet building toys came in 2006, when Mega Brands America, Inc. recalled 4 million Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets. The recall was first announced on March 31, 2006 and re-issued and expanded in April 2007. The CPSC reported one child had died and one child had suffered aspiration. 27 others had suffered intestinal injuries, according to the CPSC news release.

The tragedy could have claimed even more lives; there had been 1,500 reports of magnets coming apart. Although the Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets were labeled age 6 and older, at least 10 injuries involved older children, up to age 11.
Magnetic Construction Sets
According to CBS News, in October of 2006, Mega Brands America settled a lawsuit with 15 victims for $13.5 million. 

In 2009, consumers learned there was further wrongdoing in this case. On April 14, the CPSC announced that Mega Brands America, Inc. had agreed to pay a $1.1 million civil penalty to settle allegations that the company (and Rose Art Industries, which it had acquired) had failed to provide timely information about product dangers to children. 

Magnetic Construction Sets

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Magnet construction sets typically have magnets snap together with other stick pieces.

These sets include plastic rods and balls which can be snapped together with the magnet attraction.
Final Word on Safety
One problem is Consumer Reports found a full range of age recommendations across several popular products – and manufacturers unwilling to answer questions. Since age recommendations are the most fundamental tool consumers have, we recommend steering clear of these. 

Final Word on Safety 

The CPCS is responsible for overseeing product recalls and a quick search of its database can glean valuable information for parents. Visit www.cpsc.gov and search by product name or type of products. You can also visit the CPSC’s magnet information center.

With magnet toys, product regulations and age recommendations continue to change. They are very challenging to bring into any home safely, but especially homes with children of various ages and development skills and pets. In the end, you must make your own decision, but we urge you to be overly cautious and purchase other toys. There are so many other toys out there which can provide your child with a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Toy Safety Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability. We wish Massachusetts families a safe and healthy holiday season and share our toy safety tips as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

If you have been injured, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck to learn your legal rights at 800-379- or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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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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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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