Avoiding dangerous toys

Play is an essential part of childhood. Unfortunately, thousands of children go to the emergency room every year because of injury from unsafe toys. Our tips will help you to choose the right toys for the children in your life.

  1. Make sure toys are age-appropriate by checking the label before buying. Toys for older children should be kept separate from toys for younger children.
  2. Throw away packaging after purchase. Children can suffocate on thin plastic bags, or choke on peanut-style packaging. 2
  3. Avoid choking hazards. Children three years of age and younger should only play with toy parts larger than the opening of a toilet paper roll.3  Never give balloons or small balls to young children—balls for children under six must be larger than 1.75” in diameter. Children should not play with toys that run on watch-sized “button” batteries, because they also present the risk of choking and fatal internal injury (from battery acid).4
  4. Don't allow children to play with magnet toys. When swallowed, high-powered magnets attract to each other inside of the digestive tract, causing ulcerations, bowel blockage, and severe infection. Most injuries involve young children, but injuries to teens have also been reported. Powerful earth magnets intended for use by adults, such as those in office supplies, pain relief products, and office desk toys, should also be kept away from children.
  5. If it sounds too loud, it probably is. Some toys produce sound at levels equivalent to a lawnmower, which is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. Listen to new toys when purchasing them, and be especially careful when buying cap guns, talking dolls, toy cars with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, instruments, and toys with cranks.6
  6. Don't allow children to play with long cords or strings. Mobiles should be kept out of reach, and removed from the crib when the baby begins to push him/herself up. Ribbons or cords attached to toys should not be longer than 12”. Clothing with drawstrings should not be purchased if they could become hooked on a fixed object.
  7. Find out if toys contain toxic chemicals. Healthystuff.org has chemical content ratings for over 5,000 products. Healthystuff.org tests for BPA (bisphenol A), NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates), lead, arsenic, hazardous flame retardants, and many more classes of toxic chemicals. Home lead testers are sold at hardware stores, and can be used to test costume jewelry, metals, and paints.
  8. Consider whether the toy is heavy enough to cause injury if it fell on the child.8
  9. We’ve found some previously recalled toys still available online. Verify toys are safe by searching at http://www.cpsc.gov before purchases. Consider subscribing to free email alerts at http://www.recalls.gov. If you believe a toy is hazardous, file a report at http://www.saferproducts.gov.

Additional Information:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls many toys, and maintains an archive of old recalls. You can also go there to sign up for email alerts. If you think a toy or product is dangerous, contact the CPSC to report it:

By phone: (800) 638-2772
On the web: www.saferproducts.gov

Sources:

  1. http://www.safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-spotlight/toy-safety/ 
  2. http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/toys/files/toys-safety-tips/toy_s...
  3. http://www.babycenter.com/0_tips-for-toy-safety_423.bc 
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6134a1.htm 
  5. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2012/CPSC-Warns-High-Power...
  6. American Speech-Language Hearing Association: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Noisy-Toys/ 
  7. http://www.uspirg.org/resources/xxp/tips-toy-safety 
  8. http://www.babycenter.com/0_tips-for-toy-safety_423.bc 

 

 
 

Issue updates

Open Letter Calling on L’Oreal to be Toxic-Free

An Open Letter to the CEO of L’Oreal calling on the company to Pledge to be Toxic-Free

> Keep Reading

Open Letter Calling on Unilever to be Toxic-Free

An Open Letter to the CEO of Unilever calling on the company to Pledge to be Toxic-Free

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Getting Personal with Chemicals

We should be able to trust that the products we buy are safe — especially the ones our families use every day, directly on our bodies. However, we looked into common ingredients in popular personal care products, and found that when we use these products, like shampoo, baby wipes, deodorant, shaving gel, or perfume, we are often dosing our bodies with chemicals that can disrupt our hormones, cause developmental problems, cause cancer, and more.

This consumer guide describes the results of our investigation of 10 popular personal care products that contain chemicals of concern.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Joint Statement Opposing Exceptions to CFPB Payday Rule

We've joined 10 other leading consumer, community, religious and civil rights organizations to oppose exemptions to a strong CFPB payday and auto title lending rule and to reiterate our opposition to an exception that has already been considered and rejected that would allow lenders to make longer-term installment loans without considering a borrower’s ability to repay so long as the payment did not exceed five percent of a borrowers’ income.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You might not know this about overdraft fees | Kathryn Lee

Did your bank sell you on the idea that it’s embarrassing for you to have your debit card declined for a $3 cup of coffee, and that you should pay them $35 each time for “overdraft protection”? Those big fees are what’s embarrassing. Unless you say yes to allow fees, you cannot be charged for over-drafting your debit card.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Capital One Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company

WASHINGTON – Consumers file more complaints about Capital One than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that consumers in the District of Columbia and Delaware are most likely to file credit card complaints.

> Keep Reading

An error in your credit report? Complain to the feds

A mistake in your credit report can have serious consequences. It can hurt your ability to get a credit card, qualify for a loan, rent an apartment or even be hired for a job.
Find an error in your file and you want it corrected – quickly. But that doesn’t always happen. What do you do then? Complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Advocates Decry Harm Done to Consumers by Forced Arbitration

On date of CFPB field hearing in Dallas to release report on forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, U.S. PIRG, Americans for Financial Reform, National Consumer Law Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates and Public Citizen issue joint release. From the release: “Unfair arbitration clauses encourage unfair corporate practices and sloppy customer service,” said Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG. “If your customers cannot take you to court, why should you care about their complaints? We urge the CFPB to act quickly to ban forced arbitration clauses in financial products and services contracts.”

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Report Analyzes Complaints About Credit Bureaus

WASHINGTON— According to new analysis from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, thousands of consumers with errors on their credit reports are getting relief through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The report also found that credit reporting agencies vary widely in how they respond to consumer complaints: Equifax responded to over half with relief, while Experian responded with relief to only 5 percent. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Higher Ed

New Report Identifies Most Troublesome Private Lenders to Students

WASHINGTON – Thousands of American students are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes about private student loans, according to a new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

Sallie Mae, the student lending giant, generated the most private student loan complaints nationally, and ranked first or tied for first in every single state. Student loan borrowers in the U.S. carry $24,803 on average in total student loan debt.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

On the Internet, Everyone Knows If You're A Big Dog, Or Just A Dog | Ed Mierzwinski

A Wall Street Journal story today has everyone talking about how Internet sites use profiles and cookies to offer different customers different offers, or the same product for different prices. On the Internet today, everybody knows whether you're a big dog, or just a dog.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Could portable bank account numbers ease moving your money? | Ed Mierzwinski

PIRG "Big Banks, Bigger Fees" reports have documented the many so-called "switching costs" problems consumers face when trying to move their money to a new bank (or credit union). Account number portability, which has worked well for phone company switching, could be a part of the solution.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB seeks your views on prepaid cards, including campus cards featured in our latest report | Ed Mierzwinski

The CFPB wants your views on general purpose reloadable prepaid cards. Some of the campus cards featured in U.S. PIRG Education Fund's new report, the Campus Debit Card Trap, are prepaid cards, others are debit cards, and there is a difference.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB holds field hearing on prepaid cards-- all the fees, none of the protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Several members of the PIRG-backed Americans for Financial Reform are among the witnesses at a field hearing on prepaid cards that the Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau holds at noon today in Durham, NC. While reloadable prepaid cards are growing fast as an option for convenience, for the unbanked and for distribution of government and student benefits, so-called general purpose reloadable prepaid cards sold under a variety of brands have fewer consumer protections than credit cards (gold standard), debit cards (fewer protections), and payroll, government benefit and gift cards (some protections).The CFPB will announce a advance notice of proposed rulemaking to improve the situation.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

NY Investigates Banks "Forcing" Consumers To Buy Overpriced Mortgage Insurance | Ed Mierzwinski

It's called force-placed insurance for a reason. Your mortgage lender buys it for you and you are forced to pay for it, even if it isn't the best deal for you. When lenders purchase a product to "benefit" consumers, they often have numerous incentives to make the more expensive, not less-expensive, choice due to what's called reverse competition. That's a bad deal for you and a bad deal for the economy, but a good deal for the kind of sordid crony capitalism that relies on kickbacks, not better products. Fortunately, the New York Department of Financial Services (both banking and insurance) and the CFPB are both taking a deep dive into the forced-place-insurance mess.

> Keep Reading

Pages

View AllRSS Feed

Support us

Your tax-deductible donation supports U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s work to educate consumers on the issues that matter, and the powerful interests that are blocking progress.

Learn More

You can also support U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s work through bequests, contributions from life insurance or retirement plans, securities contributions and vehicle donations.