Tougher Federal Regulations Ensure Better Safety in 2009
Now that we’re in the midst of the gift-giving season, no matter what traditions your family celebrates, one thing is for certain – toys given to tots should stand up to the highest safety standards.
In the wake of the lead scare from 2008 and 2007, the U.S. Product Safety Commission is assuring parents this year that tougher standards and fewer recalls mean toys are getting safer.
Last month, the Commission hosted a “Town Hall on Toy Safety” to educate parents headed into the shopping season and blogged it with the New York Times.
A quick review of recent recalls by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reveals that while the organization is cracking down on consumer product recalls, deadly injuries to children from falls and choking hazards are still a big concern. From pacifiers to bicycles, the U.S. Product Consumer Safety Commission tracks which products are causing the greatest harm.
Quick tips for parents from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission include:
· For children three and under - avoid balloons, small balls (1.75” diameter or less) and check to see if toy is well made since children under three years old put everything in their mouth and pull and twist toys.
· For preschoolers, avoid toys that are constructed with thin, brittle plastic that can easily break into jagged, sharp pieces. Look for art materials designated as toxic safe with this designation – “ASTM D-4236.”
· For children over six years old, teach them to keep their toys away from younger siblings. Adults should check all toys for breakage. Throw away damaged toys. If you buy a bicycle for a child, buy a helmet and make them wear it.
But some consumer groups have challenged the Commission for not going far enough by enforcing tougher safety regulations. The National Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen have sued the Commission for failing to remove unsafe toxic toys immediately off of store shelves. A federal judge agreed with the consumer groups and in February ruled that toxic toys must come off store shelves. The Commission was forced to close toy safety loopholes.
The U.S. Pirg has distinguished itself as a toy safety czar for its annual toy safety survey. The report is specifically for parents and can be downloaded by computer or smart phone at www.toysafety.mobi. The 24th annual Trouble in Toyland survey focuses on three categories of toy and children’s products hazards:
toys and items that may pose choking hazards,
toys and items that are excessively loud, and
toys and items that contain the toxic chemicals lead and phthalates.
Thankfully, smart toy dealers are starting to capitalize on what consumers want by making toy safety a hallmark of their brand. Fatbraintoys.com prescreens their toys against toxic substances and hazards so toy shoppers don’t have to. The company has started identifying every country of every toy they sell - so far they’ve identified more than 20 countries. The site also provides a comprehensive list of links to safety information for more than 85 toy manufacturers.
We know the hustle and bustle of the holidays can sometimes distract us from what’s truly important. This holiday season, take time to ensure the safety of what’s most precious to you, and spend an extra moment celebrating the traditions that bring you and your loved ones together.