By Johnny Jackson
Officials with the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) are reminding residents to keep in mind a child's age, interests and abilities, when purchasing toys, in order to lessen the chance for potential hazards caused by dangerous toys, or those that are not age-appropriate.
Consumers should read toy packaging labels carefully, the officials warn, for age ranges and safety warnings, as well as instructions for assembly and use. They advise that parents supervise children, and their playmates, and remind caregivers of any play-related safety concerns, citing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as a resource for toy-safety guidelines.
"By limiting metals and chemicals in toys and making the voluntary standard mandatory, CPSC has put safeguards in place for toys to better protect children," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, in a prepared statement.
"The increase in injuries is a concern, and we want parents to make safe purchases, and for children to be safe at play," Tenenbaum said.
The CPSC web site notes that new toy safeguards have been implemented in recent years, along with safety-conscious steps by many toy makers and sellers. Contemporary safeguards include: lowering lead content and lead paint limits; limiting the use of certain phthalates; converting the voluntary toy standard into a mandatory standard; and working with "Customs and Border Protection" data systems to track international shipments.
CPSC officials said the safeguards have contributed to a dramatic decline in toy recalls since 2008, with 44 toy recalls in Fiscal Year 2010, down from 50 recalls in 2009 and 172 recalls in 2008.
Recalls related to lead in 2010 were down to three, fewer than the nine in 2009, and the 19 in 2008.
The CPSC released a report in November, entitled "Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries Calendar Year 2009," which showed there were 12 reported, toy-related deaths of children under 15 during the 2009 calendar year. The report said the number was a decrease from 24 toy-related fatalities in 2007, and in 2008.
The report indicated that riding toys were associated with nearly 60 percent of the reported deaths in 2009 -- three with tricycles, two with powered riding toys, and two with non-motorized riding toys, or unspecified riding toys.
"Most deaths were from drowning, motor vehicle accidents, or airway obstruction from a small toy or small part of a toy," added Tenenbaum. "[And] while recalls and deaths have declined, new statistics from CPSC ... show that toy-related injuries are increasing."
The agency estimated that, in 2009, 186,000 emergency-room-treated injuries were associated with toys and children younger than 15, up from 152,000 injuries in 2005. The report said the injuries often involved lacerations, contusions, and abrasions to a child's face and head.
The commission reported that the top-five toy hazards include: scooters and other riding toys; small balls and other toys with small parts; balloons; magnets; and chargers and adapters.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's Hotline, at (800) 638-2772, or CPSC's teletypewriter, at (301) 595-7054. For recall and general safety information, visit CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov.