Is Your Child's Toy Safe?

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

November 22, 2005

For the 20th year in a row, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released a survey warning parents about toy hazards

On the eve of the busiest shopping season of the year, the Public Interest Research Group is notifying parents about harmful toys. Researchers focused on four categories: toys that pose choking hazards, toys that are excessively loud, toys that pose strangulation hazards, and toys that contain toxic chemicals.

The usual balloons and yo-yo's made it on the list of this year's most dangerous toys.

"This toy wraps tightly around their children's necks [and] causes other injuries to eyes, face and head," said Alison Cassady, the Research Director for U.S. Public Interest Research Group. She held up a 'water yo-yo' as an example.

The group released a survey warning parents about these hazards. Other things on the list include noise. The group said a child's hearing can easily be damaged. Researchers point to things like toy electric guitars that appear to exceed noise standards.

"Exposure to noise at 117 decibels can cause hearing loss in 20 seconds," said Cassady.

Also, testing revealed that some toys that were labeled as 'non-toxic,' actually contained chemicals. Experts said there aren't enough chemicals in the toys to pose a serious threat but, these are just some of the potential hazards that parents can avoid.

"That's the way to prevent it, hands down," said Dr. Rob Trundle, of the Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville.

Dr. Trundle, is a local pediatrician, who feels there is no substitute for adult supervision.

"It becomes a parental responsibility whether or not you're going to bring this into your home and if you do, are you going to supervise your child while they're doing it?" said Dr. Trundle.

Before making any purchase, the consumer group and physicians advises parents to examine all toys carefully and look for potential dangers. Doctors urge parents to do a choke test to make sure those toys are right for your child by using an ordinary toilet paper roll. If a toy can fit through the roll, it is not suitable for a child under three years old.

Last year alone, the Product Safety Commission reported the death of 16 children, and more than 200,000 emergency room visits from toy-related incidents.

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