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The holidays are here again, and many parents are looking for the perfect gifts to give to their children. Every year in the United States, nearly 5,000 new toys are marketed to consumers. Unfortunately, many companies have an eye on profits, and some dangerous toys make it to market.
The nonprofit organization World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) aims to monitor the safety hazards presented in children’s toys. Each year, they release a list of the worst offenders. Toy hazards for children include choking on small parts, toxic substances, rigid materials that could cause harm, plush toys that can suffocate infants, and wheeled toys that can lead to head injuries.
This toy has a back compartment that contains three button cell batteries. When children ingest such batteries, they can be severely injured or even die from internal chemical burns in as little as two hours.
This circular saucer with wheels is designed for children between 1 ½ and 5 years old. Although the warning on the package says it should never be used near streets and motor vehicles, the picture shows a young child using it on the sidewalk. The manufacturer includes no information or instructions as to whether a helmet or other safety gear should be used, which could lead to impact injuries.
This plush soft mat comes with a tummy pillow and is marketed to newborn infants. It also comes with multiple warnings about never allowing babies to sleep on the mat because of the dangers of suffocation.
This little baby doll comes in a high chair and has multiple accessories for feeding that are small enough to be easily ingested by a toddler. The manufacturer’s recommended age for the product is 2 years old and older.
This nerf gun can fire its projectile rounds at high speed, thus presenting the danger for eye and facial injuries. The manufacturer warns against aiming the weapon at eyes or face and advertises that eye protection is included inside the box. However, the included eye protection consists of glasses and not the full face mask depicted on the packaging.
The manufacturer of this toy drum says that children as young as 12 months old can play with it, but the drumsticks included are small, slender, and rigid, and they can be potentially ingested and block a child’s air passages. No warnings against the choking hazard were provided with the toy, and the only hazard mentioned is about hearing damage that could occur from using the drum too close to the ear.
This toy can be strapped onto the heels of a child’s shoe to turn it into a rear-wheel roller skate. Marketed to children ages 6 years old and above, it contains warnings to always wear a helmet or other protective equipment, yet on the box, it shows a picture of a child using the heel skates without a helmet or any protective gear at all.
These toy sickle-shaped plastic blades are intended for children 5 years old and older. Although the packaging cautions that the toy should not be used to swing, poke, or harm people and animals, the reality is that throwing them has the potential to cause blunt force impact injuries, including facial injuries.
The manufacturer states that this product is for children 5 years old and older, but it also says that proper training is needed to operate the toy. The operation manual is 21 pages, and it comes with numerous warnings to not ride it at high speeds, on rocky or uneven terrain, or on steep slopes. The warning label on the hoverboard itself states that failure to follow instructions can result in death or serious injury.
This plastic basket comes with 16 little fruits, vegetables, food, and drink items which are all potential choking hazards. The only warnings about age limits and choking hazards for the toy are on the throwaway packaging.
With the supply chain in disarray, there are toy shortages being predicted for the holiday season. Parents need to remain vigilant, whether they are shopping at well-known retailers, online, or in second-hand shops.
Toys and packaging should always be thoroughly inspected for safety red flags, such as choking hazards, toxic ingredients, and incomplete or misleading safety information. Parents should know their own child’s behavior and recognize that some toys are inherently riskier than others and make good choices.
In 2020, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported an estimated 198,000 toy-related injuries. Despite the CPSC issuing recalls last year, children continued to get hurt. It is important to note that recalls are reactive and not proactive safety measures. Once a defective toy has been produced and brought to market, it can exist in stores, schools, neighbors’ homes, and community centers. Toy injuries are entirely preventable if defects are detected in the design and manufacturing phase. Consumers should not be the ones bearing the burden of identifying safety hazards in toys.
If your child is hurt by a defective toy, do not throw it away. Keep it as evidence, and document as much as you can about happened and how the toy caused the injury. Take photographs, and keep any bills related to the injury. Contact an experienced lawyer who can help determine if you have a products liability claim.
Parents should not have to worry when their children receive a new toy as a gift. Toy manufacturers have a responsibility to make products free of safety hazards, and those that market defective toys to children should be held accountable. Our Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you if your child has been injured by a defective toy. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.