Opinion

Rhodes: Here are four toy safety tips for the holiday season

Posted 12/15/21

Legitimate toy makers deserve credit for making their products much safer over the years. However, too often, Arizonans still end up buying dangerous toys for children for the holidays.

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Opinion

Rhodes: Here are four toy safety tips for the holiday season

Posted

Legitimate toy makers deserve credit for making their products much safer over the years. However, too often, we still end up buying dangerous toys for children for the holidays.

And, while it’s not fair that gift-buyers need to keep an eye out for counterfeit or recalled items, because of some bad actors, we must.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine whether a gift is safe or not, especially online, when you can’t inspect the item and it may be mislabeled, or missing a warning, such as a recall notice.

The good news is that toys with safety risks are less likely to be found at traditional retail stores. However, when shopping on websites that act as the middleman between the customer and the seller, consumers can encounter hidden hazards.

Whereas the retailers must receive a certificate of compliance from a manufacturer before selling a toy, not every toy sold online may be covered and the toy described in the website listing might not be the toy that arrives at your door.

While the best way to keep a child safe from injury from a toy is to keep an eye on them, look out for any broken toys, and to ensure the toys are age appropriate, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s annual Trouble in Toyland report includes tips to identify potentially unsafe toys sold online and in stores.

  • Knockoff toys. Scrutinize the seller, reviews and the price. Toys that are significantly less expensive than you would expect could be counterfeits.
  • Second-hand toys. When shopping online for second-hand toys, check out saferproducts.gov to find out about any past recalls.

You can subscribe to email recall updates from U.S. government safety agencies at www.recalls.gov.

  • Choking hazards. Use a toilet paper tube to test small parts in the home. If a toy or a part of a toy easily fits in the tube it could pose a choking hazard, particularly to a child under the age of 3.
  • Noisy toys. If a toy you’re considering buying sounds loud, don’t buy it. If you already have a noisy toy at home that you’re concerned may be too loud, you can take the batteries out so it doesn’t make noise, or put duct tape over the speaker to stifle the sound.
  • Smart toys. Before buying a smart toy, read its description to understand what technology it uses and how your child will interact with the toy.

To see if the toy has sparked any privacy concerns, it’s a good idea to search the toy’s name and the manufacturer online, and to look for COPPA approval.

When you’re thinking of how fun a toy can be, it is easy to overlook how dangerous it can be. When it comes to holiday shopping, ignorance is not bliss.

If you find a toy that you believe may be unsafe, please report it at Saferproducts.gov.

Editor's note: Hannah Rhodes is a consumer associate with the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, a statewide organization that conducts research and education on issues in the public interest. Learn more at www.ArizonaPIRGEdFund.org.

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