November 13, 2020 – As the holidays approach, the hunt for gifts begins. But not all children’s toys made the good list – among this year’s most dangerous items are a tool set with small parts, a toy with high noise levels and high-powered magnets. , according to a new surveillance report.
The US Public Interest Research Group has published its 35e annual report “Trouble in Toyland” which highlights dangerous toys for children. The 2020 report found several types of toys to avoid – recalled toys at the top of the list. And as with most things, COVID-19 has only increased the dangers of these toys, the report says. As parents juggle e-learning, pandemic challenges, and their own jobs, supervising children is more difficult than ever.
“Parents and caregivers are overwhelmed,” Grace Brombach, an associate watchdog for the research group, said during a webinar Thursday. “Older siblings spend more time indoors with their younger siblings. Toys intended for older children could end up in the hands of younger children. “
For example, researchers found a Vtech Drill & Learn11 toolkit – labeled for ages 2-5 – that contains bolts that are 1.75 inches long by 0.75 inches wide at their widest point. . According to a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, three children died of suffocation or aspiration on nails or toy dowels in 2006, although they were not part of that specific tool set. The makers of the toy did not respond to a request for comment.
Experts on the webinar panel recommended using the “toilet paper roll test” – anything that can easily fit in a toilet paper roll is not safe for children under 3 years old.
Panelist Kate Cronan, MD, an emergency medicine pediatrician at Nemours / Alfred I. duPont Children’s Hospital in Delaware, highlighted the dangers of keeping small items around young children. She told the story of a 2-year-old who was recently rushed to her hospital emergency room after swallowing an eye of a doll. She recovered, but the eye had to be surgically removed from her esophagus.
“It’s nothing new, but it’s really important that we know that these kinds of things are happening,” she said.
The report also warns of flocking animals – fuzzy animal figures – like the popular Calico Critters, which come with accessories and are labeled for children ages 3 and up. According to the report, these toys and their accessories are suspected in the death of a child in New Mexico and the imminent death of a boy in Utah. Both children were under 3 years old and allegedly choked on the same pacifier accessory.
The report recommends avoiding these products, especially if there are young children at home. But a statement from the toy makers said, “All Calico Critters products meet or exceed all US safety standards. We are confident that Calico Critters are safe and pose no risk to children older than the age recommended on the packaging. “
Some products, such as strong magnets, can cause harm if swallowed. In May, a 9-year-old swallowed three high-powered magnets made by Zen Magnets LLC, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A week later, she had to undergo emergency surgery after the swallowed magnets caused severe pain in her stomach.
According to a statement from Zen Magnets, there is “a dangerous impression that strong magnets are children’s toys (they are certainly not children’s toys and should never be marketed as such)”. Zen is working on new standards that will require child-resistant packaging and strong warnings on all high-powered recreational magnet sets, the release said.
In addition to the risks of suffocation and ingestion, the report discusses the dangers of dangerously noisy toys. Researchers found a fire truck on Amazon that emits 104 decibel sounds at its highest point, the report says. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to 100 decibel noise for more than 15 minutes can damage hearing. A statement from the compliance liaison officer of Zetz Brands, the manufacturer of the truck, says the company spends thousands of dollars on research and development for its products to keep them safe.
The statement states that “the subject has been tested and approved to comply with the security requirements of the CPCS.”
But Brombach said that “a toy so strong, especially if held near a child’s ear, can cause serious damage. She recommends turning down the volume on noisy toys if possible, removing the batteries, or putting tape on the speaker to dampen the noise.
The report also warns of the recalled toys being sold used. Brombach said several pages of the recalled toys were discovered during an eBay search. To avoid offering a recalled product, buyers should be aware of the 10 toys recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the past year. A search on saferproducts.gov will also reveal if a toy has been recalled.
Cronan said fear of COVID-19 could deter people from taking their children to the emergency room after a dangerous toy incident that may not seem urgent at the moment. She strongly encourages parents and caregivers to call a doctor before deciding to stay home, so that a professional can assess whether a trip to the hospital is necessary.
“If anything happens, they should call the doctor immediately,” Cronan said. “I just want parents to feel like they can get help.”
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