Toys: Keeping them safe and fun for children

By Paul Gagliardi

The holidays are just around the corner and it’s a perfect time to focus on toy safety and the well being of children.

Toys are fun but they can also be dangerous. Numerous small parts, batteries, paints, and plastics can impact the safety of toys. Protecting the safety of children should be first and foremost, and you can easily do this with the help of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Before making a toy purchase, do your homework. Check with CPSC to read up on toy recalls as well as toy safety tips. View this information by visiting or calling (800) 638-CPSC.

Injuries and death from toys are real. Up to Nov. 17, 2009, CPSC had 38 toy recalls in calendar year 2009, which was down from 162 in 2008. CPSC attributes the decline to such things as new federal safety rules.

In 2008, there were an estimated 235,300 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to CPSC. And in 2008, CPSC received 19 reports of toy related deaths among children less than 15 years old. Most of the deaths were associated with drowning, motor vehicle involvement, or airway obstruction from small toys or parts.

There are many ways in which to keep toys safe for children. These include:

  • Age appropriate toys
  • Pay attention to instructions and warning labels on toys and charging devices
  • Immediately throw away any packaging, wrappings or other materials
  • Charging of batteries should be supervised by adults

The CPSC also recommends that when buying second-hand items and from online sources, make sure that the products haven’t been recalled, banned or don’t meet current safety standards.

Other CPSC safety suggestions include:

  • Wearing helmets and safety gear for riding toys, skates, and skateboards.
  • Watch carefully for toys that have magnets as they can come off and cause choking risk or other internal injuries.
  • Children younger than age three should not be given toys with small parts.

Regularly inspect your children’s toys and play areas to look for lose parts, magnets, plastics or wrappings. You should also never leave children unattended with items such as balloons, bags, or anything with strings/ropes attached. You should also be concerned about products that make loud noises and the damage that noise-making toys can cause to your child’s hearing. Check packaging for information regarding noise level.  Make sure any toys that fire projectiles such as darts or arrows have soft tips or rubber suction cups to prevent injury and regularly inspect to make sure these are still attached.

Our children are priceless. They are our future so please do everything you can to keep their toys safe. You can play a big part in their safety if you do your homework before purchasing a toy and regularly inspect the items and play areas.

Paul Gagliardi is the President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, the state's largest statewide voluntary bar organization. The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy.

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