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Tips For Toy Safety

Between January 1989 and September 1990, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports of 33 deaths related to toys. Choking incidents with balloons, marbles or small balls, and parts of toys were reported in 20 of these fatalities. More choking deaths occur from balloons than from any other children's product and are evenly divided between children under three and over three years of age.

Chairman Jacqueline Jones-Smith described actions the Commission is taking to prevent these choking deaths. During FY 1990, the Commission issued "Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPR's) that could result in mandatory labels warning of the choking hazards presented by balloons, small balls and marbles. The agency also issued an ANPR that could result in warning labeling on toys having small parts that may be dangerous to younger children and are intended for children aged three to six.

Chairman Jones-Smith urged parents to be aware of the choking hazards presented by these products and urged them to stress toy safety in teaching older children about their responsibilities in the home. Older children can help by keeping their toys that contain small parts away from their brothers and sisters.

Commissioner Carol Dawson stressed that older children need instructions in the safe use of their toys. Safety instructions should include the use of protective equipment, such as helmets, when children are using bicycles or skateboards. It has been shown that helmets can reduce severe injuries when falls have occurred. Projectile toys should be used away from young children and always stored out of their reach.

Commissioner Anne Graham demonstrated how young children can become entangled and strangle on crib toys that are strung across a crib, tied to one side rail or corner posts, or are suspended in some manner above the infant. She emphasized that crib toys with strings, cords, and other catch points should be removed from the crib when the infant is old enough to push up on hands and knees, usually around the age of five months.

Since 1973, the Commission received reports of 51 strangulation-related incidents involving crib toys (including home-made toys). These incidents account for 31 deaths, 19 "near misses" and one case of severe brain damage. On October 19, 1990, the Commission published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register which initiated a rulemaking activity. These activities may result in certain mandatory requirements, including warning labels, that crib toys have to meet.

The CPSC, the Federal agency responsible for consumer product safety, is warning the public about toy hazards as part of its mission to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with consumer products. Some 15,000 types of consumer products fall under the Commission's jurisdiction and each year these products are involved in an estimated 30 million injuries and 22,000 deaths.

In an effort to reduce injuries and deaths, CPSC is continuing its efforts to keep non-complying toys out of the American marketplace. Cooperative efforts with the U.S. Customs Service are continuing. Since 1987, when this program began, some three million toys have been seized, having a retail value of over 10 million dollars.

The Commission is again reminding parents and other caretakers of young children to:

  • Choose toys appropriate to the child's age. Some toys intended for children over age three may contain small parts, which could present a choking hazard to children under three.
  • Keep toys used by older children, such as games with small pieces, marbles or small balls, away from young children.
  • Keep uninflated balloons out of the hands of children under six years of age and discard pieces of broken balloons because of possible choking.
  • Think "BIG" when selecting toys -- especially for children under age three -- big toys without small parts are just as enjoyable to youngsters as small toys.


Caps For Toy Guns


Don't Let Children Put Caps for Toy Guns in Their Pockets

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that parents warn children not to put ring caps, paper roll caps, or strip caps for toy guns in their pockets because friction can ignite the caps and cause burns. Toy caps contain a small amount of a pyrotechnic material that ignites when struck and creates a loud noise accompanied by sparks. Some manufacturers label their packages cautioning users not to carry caps in pockets.

CPSC urges parents to explain the hazards of ignition of toy caps to children and to make sure that children not put caps in their pockets.

CPSC reminds parents that caps may also pose a noise hazard. A current CPSC regulation limits the decibel level of caps to no more than 158 decibels. A warning label is mandatory on caps in the 138 to 158 decibel level, as follows:

"WARNING - Do not fire closer than 1 foot to the ear. Do not use indoors."

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