Toy Box DangersAn alarming number of toys and children’s products have been recalled in recent years, even beyond the widely publicized lead paint-covered items. Choking hazards, excessively loud toys and toys made with other potentially dangerous chemicals have found their way into small children’s hands and, not surprisingly, their mouths as well.
As your children are unwrapping their Christmas presents, beware of any toys with small parts and sharp surfaces, and in case they’re still out there, beware of the following hazardous toys.
Photo Credit: Mycael
When Safety Rules Fall ShortToys with small parts pose a choking hazard, and choking is the leading cause of deaths and injuries caused by toys, according to Trouble in Toyland, an annual toy safety report from the Public Interest Research Group.
Toys with small parts meant for kids between ages 3 and 6 must have warning labels, parts smaller than 1.75 inches are banned entirely for kids under 3, lead paint is limited to 600 parts per million or 0.06% total lead content, and loud toys should emit less than 90 decibels of noise, according to government regulations.
But manufacturers don’t always follow those rules, and that can lead to serious injuries and even fatalities. Here are some of the biggest failures in the toy industry, including the worst, most dangerous toy concepts.
Photo Credit: emrank
Lead Paint on ToysProblem: Millions of Mattel (Stock Quote: MAT) toys were recalled in the past couple of years due to hazardous levels of lead paint. The approximately 2 million recalled toys included certain Batman, Polly Pocket and Barbie accessories, as well as Sesame Street toys, Dora the Explorer products and Diego toys from Mattel’s Fisher-Price subsidiary.
Risk: Lead in any form builds up in the body over time and, with prolonged exposure, can affect a child’s growth, cognitive development and hearing, and can damage the central nervous system, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Result: To settle numerous lawsuits, the toymaker is expected to spend more than $50 million, according to the Associated Press.
Photo Credit: Abby Lanes
Stabbing Lawn DartsProblem: Lawn darts just sound hazardous. The idea is to throw the darts high up in the air and have them land inside or near a ring on the lawn. Unfortunately, toy developers may not have considered that children might hurt themselves with these sharp pointed objects.
Risk: Lawn darts could puncture their skulls, faces and eyes. They’ve caused at least three child deaths and one skull-piercing injury causing brain damage.
Result: Lawn darts were officially banned in the U.S. in 1988. However, they were sold as recently as 2008 and subsequently recalled.
Photo Credit: SLR Jester
Toy Missiles Actually KillProblem: Battlestar Galactica space toys were sold with missiles that were more than an inch long.
Risk: The missiles could be accidentally swallowed or inhaled.
Result: After the death of a 4-year-old child, the toymaker, Mattel, started a “missile mail-in” campaign allowing parents to send any remaining missiles and get a free Hot Wheels car in return.
Photo Credit: urbanwoodchuck
Problem: Small magnets on toys including Magnetix building sets and Polly Pocket play sets can come loose and detach.
Risk: If swallowed, these small magnets could tear holes in a child's stomach lining and potentially cause damage to other internal organs.
Result: Strong magnets in Magnetix sets led to one death, one case of magnet inhalation and 27 cases of intestinal injuries. Those sets were initially recalled in 2006. After 170 reports of Polly Pocket magnets detaching, which in some cases required hospitalization and surgery, certain sets were recalled that same year.
Photo Credit: D'Arcy Norman
Mauled by Wolverine?Problem: Plastic toys, if hard enough, can cause skin punctures and scrapes, and X-Men Wolverine action figures, with their long rigid claws could be a bit too sharp.
Risk: This action figure made it to the 10 Worst Toys list released by World Against Toys Causing Harm, a consumer advocate group due to its “potential for eye and other impact injuries,” according to the organization.
Result: These toys are still being sold online and in stores. They’re recommended for ages 4 and up, but certain organizations would warn against owning them at all.
Photo Credit: hasbrotoyshop.com
Punctured by Batman’s Ears?Problem: Though shorter than Wolverine’s claws, the ears on this Dark Knight Batman figure also pose a hazard to children. Risk: Batman’s ears could also puncture children’s skin or cause other bodily injury, according to the WATCH report. The figure itself is 30 inches tall, and Batman’s ears are about one inch tall, the group warns.
Result: These figures are still being sold online, but no longer appear available on ToysRUs.com, which was under fire for keeping lead paint-covered toys on its store shelves even after they were recalled.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Stabbed by the BatmobileProblem: Potentially even more dangerous that Batman himself is this 20-inch blue and gray plastic Batmobile that has actually received the attention of safety officials for its long, sharp wings.
Risk: The rigid plastic rear tail wings could cause punctures, cuts and lacerations.
Result: After 14 reports of scrapes, scratches, lacerations and puncture wounds from the toy car, including four cases requiring medical treatment, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and toymaker Mattel issued a recall.
Photo Credit: CPSC
Loose Car PartsProblem: This toy construction vehicle’s wheels and axles can separate, exposing a three-inch long metal spoke.
Risk: Serious, deep puncture wounds could be caused by this toy, which is recommended by the manufacturer for kids aged 18 months and older, according to WATCH.
Result: In response to the WATCH warning, the toy’s manufacturer, Toy State, said in a statement that all of its toys go through extensive testing. "Toy State exceeds all government safety standards,” the company said.
Photo Credit: bionicteaching
Arms Stuck in Leap Frog PlaygroundsProblem: Children could get stuck in the LeapFrog Learn-Around Playground Activity Center.
Risk: Children’s arms could get stuck in a plastic tube, possibly resulting in scratches and bruising.
Result: After LeapFrog received 145 reports of kids getting stuck in the plastic tub and 54 reports of scratches and bruises, the product was recalled and LeapFrog offered consumers a free repair kit.
Photo Credit: leapfrog.com
Inflatable Water Toys KillProblem: Wego Kite Tubes are 10-foot-wide inflatable crafts that are towed behind power boats. They may appear like a kid’s toy, but could be much more dangerous than it looks.
Risk: The Kite Tube can become airborne from the water and lead to serious injuries.
Result: After reports of two deaths and 39 injuries including a broken neck, punctured lung, chest, back and facial injuries, manufacturer Sportsstuff pulled the product from the market. The company said that it couldn’t figure out the cause of the accidents, but recalled the products out of “an abundance of caution.”
Photo Credit: CPSC
When Books ChokeProblem: Small parts turn the toys into choking hazards. Other items, including books and shoes can be dangerous for small children, especially if they’re prone to putting objects in their mouths. The book Curious Baby Curious George Counting - My First Book of Numbers, for one, could cause choking in small children.
Risk: The Curious George book contains a metal rod with beads mounted in between two pieces of cardboard, meant as a counting device. It has been recommended for newborns and up, according to WATCH.
Result: These books are still on the market.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Noisy Toys Cause Hearing LossProblem: Some toys that make noise, like talking dolls, toys with horns and sirens and musical instruments can emit sounds at upwards of 90 decibels, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. If held close to the ear, that could amount to as much as 120 decibels.
Risk: Any noisy toys can cause hearing loss in both children and adults, especially when they’re held close to the head. “Continued exposure to more than 85 decibels of noise may cause gradual but permanent damage to hearing. Hearing loss is accelerated by louder noises,” according to ASHA.
Result: Government standards require that toy noises be limited to 90 decibels. However, some may continue to emit much more than that.
Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann
“Safer” Trampolines Less SafeProblem: For decades, trampolines have struck fear in the hearts of many parents. But more recently, trampolines enclosed for safety have posed more hazards than expected.
Risk: Faulty frame welds on Jumpking enclosed trampolines could cause falls and injuries as well as lacerations, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Additionally, straps on Skywalker trampoline enclosures could break, causing a fall hazard.
Result: Jumpking received 47 reports that one or more welds broke on its trampolines, resulting in 21 injuries, including head, neck and back injuries, broken bones, sprains, lacerations and bruises. Skywalker Holdings received at least 250 reports that straps broke. No injuries were reported. Both Jumpking and Skywalker Trampolines were recalled. Both companies offered consumers free repair kits.
Photo Credit: CPSC
Dangerous Playskool ToyProblem: The Magic Start Crawl ‘n Stand toy may seem harmless, but as babies learn balance, they need support that won’t fall down when they do.
Risk: This toy is meant to encourage babies to learn how to use a stable support to help them stand up, but it can actually tip over and hit babies in the head, face or neck, according to the CPSC.
Result: Playskool received 44 reports that the toys tipped over when used, and 26 babies sustained injuries including one concussion, as well as bumps, bruises, black eyes and cut lips.
Photo Credit: CPSC
Kid’s Folding Chairs Collapse and AmputateProblem: Even folding chairs for adults can cause finger and hard injuries when closed improperly, so one might think that folding chairs may not be safe for children, even if they have a safety lock.
Risk: Little fingers can still get trapped in hinges of cute, kid-sized chairs.
Result: After four reports of finger tip amputations and seven reports of finger lacerations caused by the chairs, 1.5 million were recalled by distributor Atico International and the CPSC.
Photo Credit: CPSC
Hazardous BatteriesProblem: Battery-powered toys have become hugely popular in recent decades, but parents should still be wary of possible injuries from the direct currents that pass through their gadgets as well as what could result when batteries are kept in devices for long periods of time.
Risk: Batteries can leak acid which could end up in young children’s mouths, possibly causing burns in addition to a choking hazard.
Result: WATCH has warned against giving battery-operated toys to kids younger than 8 years old. Parents should also check battery-powered toys regularly to make sure they don’t overheat or leak battery acid.
Photo Credit: Tim Patterson
Pull-toys Can StrangleProblem: After massive recalls of millions of roll-up blinds and hooded sweatshirts, consumers have been increasingly aware of products’ ability to cause child strangulation. But certain toys may also pose a strangulation hazard.
Risk: Any classic pull-toys with strings can pose a strangulation hazard.
Result: Pull-toys long enough to wrap around a child’s neck continue to be recalled.
Photo Credit: oddharmonic
PreventionTo ensure the safety of your child’s new toys this Christmas, read toy packaging carefully and make sure they’re appropriate for your child’s age group, suggests Consumer Reports. Look for “no phthalates” on the label as well.
Keep an eye out for small parts, loud toys and toys with magnets, suggests consumer advocacy group Kids in Danger.
Photo Credit: joshtaiger