Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Wooden toys and rattle recalls highlight dangerous toy safety hazards children face every day, and choking's only one of several risks. Roughly 1,000 of the Earth Friendly Maya Organic wooden toys were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission Oct. 30 after dangerous choking hazards were found if and when small pieces broke off. This is just one of four wooden toy recalls in the past four months, totaling more than 125,000 toys.
In July, 375 Earthentree wooden toys were recalled, followed by 118,000 Habermaas wooden toys in August, and in September 6,000 wooden abacuses was recalled.
"In each instance, there was a danger of pieces breaking off and a small child choking on them," said Don Keenan, founder of the Keenan's Kids Foundation child safety organization and author of 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe. But choking risks are just one of many things parents need to be aware of when handing their child a toy, Keenan said. "There are so many hazards associated with toys that are theoretically designed to bring joy to a child's life," he noted, "and parents need to consider these when they give their child toy to play with. The bottom line is the government and toy manufacturers are not looking out for your child's best interests - only you can do that."
Keenan's 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe has an entire chapter dedicated to toy safety, and includes the following risks to watch out for: "Choking risks are the number one; more than 60 percent of toy-related deaths are a result of swallowing and choking," Keenan said. "You know your child best, and you know whether or not smaller parts are okay for them to play with. But also be aware of older children's toys being accessible to smaller children, which may not be age-appropriate for them."
There is also strangulation risks associated with toys that have pulls or nets attached to them, such as yo-yos, sweat shirt drawstrings, or a mini-hoop basketball set. Riding toys account for the most injuries to children each year - both motorized and non-motorized. Magnets pose grave dangers if ingested, and any child under 8-years-old is not recommended to play with these kinds of toys.
Other tips include looking out for toys with sharp edges and those that have loud noises. Finally, make sure the instructions on the outside of the toy's packaging match the inside instructions. Shockingly, a large number of toys have contradictory statements between their sets of instructions.
There are have been 60 separate toy recalls in 2008 so far, rapidly approaching the 2007 tally of 75 recalls, which averaged out to be one recall every five days last year. In 2006, 22 children suffered toy-related deaths and every year, more than 100,000 children are injured.
For children who have the Earth Friendly toys Moee (a car), Cubby (a stacking toy with a bear's head), or Bell (a rattle), parents are recommended to contact Earth Friendly to exchange the toys or receive a refund. Call (888) 360-6292, or visit www.earthfriendlyllc.com/recall or www.cpsc.org.
Don Keenan is the founder of the Keenan's Kids Foundation and author of the child safety book 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe, available at www.balloonpress.com and www.amazon.com. All proceeds benefit the Keenan's Kids Foundation, www.keenanskidsfoundation.com or www.myspace.com/365waystokeepkidssafe.