BALTIMORE — While shoppers hunt for holiday gifts, Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) is warning parents about toys that make the naughty list.
Every year, the nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization releases the “Trouble in Toyland” report, which includes a list of toys that are potentially dangerous.
On Thursday, pediatricians participated in the group’s announcement.
“In the last probably two months, I’ve had patients who have had to have surgery for removal of button batteries as well as ball bearings, the little metal toys,” said Dr. Tia Medley at MedStar Health.
Maryland PIRG is especially urging parents to keep an eye on magnets or toys with magnets and keep them far out of reach of young children.
Recalled toys also make their list.
“Buying toys from huge online marketplaces may be fast and convenient, but it’s not always the safest option,” said Rishi Shah with Maryland PIRG.
Recalls remove potentially dangerous products from store shelves, but they can easily end up on a resale site. A quick search on SaferProducts.gov shows you whether or not the toy has been recalled.
Maryland PIRG advises against noisy toys that can damage young ears. Parents and caregivers should turn them down, take out the batteries, or cover the speakers with tape.
And while toys are labeled 3 years and up, younger ages are getting a hold of them. Certain toys could pose a choking hazard. The easiest way to check is to use a paper towel roll. If the toy fits inside, it will most likely fit in your child’s mouth.
Mercy Hospital Dr. Julie Ellis said if your child ingests a toy, go through this checklist.
“Look at your child and say are they breathing like normal? Are they talking like normal? Are they acting like normal? If they’re not breathing like normal, talking like normal, or acting like normal, acting like themselves, then call 911. If they are doing all of those things then we recommend you call poison control,” Ellis said.
Maryland Poison Control Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222.
Also, be careful of connected toys and gaming consoles. Add parental controls so kids can’t chat with strangers and if a toy connects to Bluetooth, make sure it’s through a secure network.
And for any apps or games, don’t share your password if it’s connected to a credit card and offers in-app purchases.
The Toy Association said the annual report contains "baseless claims" and toys continue to be one of the safest consumer product categories found in the home, based on data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
See their full statement below:
U.S. toy safety requirements include more than 100 rigorous standards and tests to ensure that toys are safe. All toys, regardless of where they are made, must comply with these standards, which go above and beyond those for other consumer products. There are strict limits for lead and other chemicals in toys, internationally emulated limits on sound level output, a highly effective small parts regulation that was developed with the help of pediatricians, and strict standards prohibiting the use of strong magnets in any toy part that is small enough to be swallowed.
DEBUNKING PIRG’S MYTHS:
Some of the items PIRG speaks of are recalled product that are not available for purchase from verified, legitimate toy sellers. The Toy Association works year-round to educate parents and caregivers to always shop at reputable stores and verified online retailers, and to avoid buying toys from unverified sellers on online marketplaces. These vendors likely do not monitor for recalled products or might be selling counterfeit/imitation toys that do not comply with strict U.S. laws. PIRG does agree with The Toy Association that online marketplaces need to do better at policing their sites for recalled products, ensuring warnings are present on the webpage, and confirming that product descriptions do not contradict warnings or package age labels. (Learn more about the toy industry’s work to make online marketplaces safer in this Toy Association white paper [toyassociation.org].)
There is no such thing as a “near small part.” There is a highly effective small parts regulation and a federally approved small parts tester (available online), developed by doctors, that can be used to test small objects found around the home. Families are encouraged to always check and follow the age-grading on toy packaging. Toys labeled 3+ may contain small parts that can be a choking hazard for children under three (or kids who still mouth toys).
The group also mentions several items that are not toys, such as: adult magnets, balloons, and in-app purchases. These products are not subject to the same rigorous standards as toys and including them under a “toy” safety headline deliberately misleads parents and undermines the toy industry’s deep and ongoing commitment to safety. (In addition, some of PIRG’s allegations have nothing to do with safety, such as the complaint about in-app purchases.)
Safety is the toy industry’s top priority every day of the year, not just during the holidays. Families are invited to visit www.PlaySafe.org [playsafe.org], The Toy Association’s safety resource for parents and caregivers.