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December 2003 | Vol. II - No. 12
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Underwater Yo-Yo Deemed Dangerous



Yo-Yo Waterball
The Yo-Yo Waterball is a liquid-filled bungee ball attached to a stretchy tether; a small loop at the end is designed to slip over a child´s finger like a traditional yo-yo. The child swings their arm and the ball flings harmlessly off in any direction.  But is it really harmless? 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received 186 complaints ranging from near strangulation to eye injuries. It’s hard to believe this inexpensive, low-tech toy could be at the center such a storm of controversy. 

Sales of the Yo-Yo Waterball have been banned in Europe, Australia and Canada, as well as New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The CPSC did a thorough investigation, including analyzing the liquid center and testing the material for flammability. Their results found the toy to be "low risk" for children under 8 years of age. The CPSC subsequently issued a warning for parents to closely supervise young children who play with the Yo-Yo Waterball. They also made the suggestion that parents could modify the toy by removing the stretchy tether and allowing the child to play with the ball alone.  Toys R Us decided to eliminate any risk by removing the toy from their shelves. 

Is there a safety net for manufacturers?

"I would urge toy manufacturers to build safety into their product at the design stage," said Ken Giles, a spokesman for the CPSC. "Make it as much a part of product design as price, color and marketing."  Mr. Giles suggests manufacturers hire a safety professional to assess their product at the design level and even subject it to safety analysis at a lab. "It´s best to get those issues out of the way before you ever begin production," he stressed.

Where to go for assistance? 

The CPSC website at http://www.cpsc.gov/ is a great place to start. The website has a list of testing labs experienced in product safety issues. Additionally, the CPSC office of compliance is available for informal, no-cost consultation on products and product design before you ever reach the manufacturing stage.




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Sheryl ScarboroughWriter's Bio: Sheryl is a freelance writer of children and family TV, childrenīs books, comic books and now articles about toys. She lives in Northridge, CA with her husband, son and neurotic pets. Read more articles by this author

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