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

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

New analysis uncovers unsafe blood pressure medication distributed in US

A new analysis of publicly available information from the FDA by U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund finds only 26 percent of a class of recalled blood pressure medications have been assessed for carcinogen contamiantion -- and the majority had some lots with higher levels than the FDA considers safe.

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

Statement: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau agrees to retain consumer complaint database and enhance elements of the key resource

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced today it would continue to maintain its public consumer complaint database, and that it also plans to make a number of “enhancements” to the database. These include: providing financial information and details into the complaint process to both better address questions and inform consumers before issuing a complaint; and adding materials to help consumers who seek answers to specific questions from financial companies.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Consumer Protection

Statement on Re-introduction of the Overdraft Protection Act

Statement of Higher Ed Campaign Director Kaitlyn Vitez on the reintroduction of the Overdraft Protection Act, which would improve consumer disclosures and limit excessive fees. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

In the wake of the Capital One data breach, Ed Mierzwinski and Adam Garber explain how to protect your credit

Were you affected by the Capital One breach, one of the largest thefts of data from any bank to date?

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

Statement: Google to pay disappointing $170 million fine over YouTube’s sale and tracking of ads aimed at children

Google will pay a $170 million penalty to settle claims that YouTube “illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent” through its advertising practices, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, Consumer Protection, Higher Ed

College students can save hundreds as they head back to school

College is expensive, requiring many students to take out significant loans to afford an education. On top of that, students have to deal with the additional costs of textbooks, computers and other critical supplies. As students head back to school -- or to school for the first time -- U.S. PIRG Education Fund is releasing a money-saving guide to help them cut those additional costs.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund & Kids in Danger | Consumer Protection

1 in 10 surveyed daycares still using deadly, recalled infant sleepers

Three months after nearly 5.4 million infant sleepers were recalled for causing 36 infant deaths, a new survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education (U.S. PIRG) and Kids in Danger (KID) revealed that many child care facilities continue to use these dangerous inclined sleepers.

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

Largest bank hack ever, of Capital One, exposes 100 million to identity theft

Everyone should assume that their social security number has been exposed between this breach and breaches of other major companies’ databases, such as Equifax’s. With that in mind, U.S. PIRG recommends all Americans should use their right by law to freeze their credit reports for free

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

Equifax penalty is a “sweetheart deal” that leaves consumers at risk

Our response to Equifax paying a $650 million penalty for exposing the social security numbers of 148 million Americans to identity theft.

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

CVS-Aetna merger will increase prescription drug costs for many

CVS-Aetna lawyers, consumer advocates and health care organizations gathered in Washington for oral arguments on whether the Department of Justice’s proposed final judgment in the CVS-Aetna matter is in the public interest. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Letter: Protecting the FTC from Special Interest Attacks

While much of our work has been in defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), we also support the efforts of the over-100 year old Federal Trade Commission.

> 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

Stop Payday Predators

Payday loans are among the most predatory forms of credit on the market. Though they are marketed as having “reasonable” fees or charges, typical interest rates exceed 300 percent. And because the payday lenders’ bottom line actually depends on borrowers’ inability to repay — most payday fees come from borrowers who take out more than 10 loans a year — they target people with low incomes and no other options.

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

Trouble in Toyland 2015

For 30 years, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to an estimated 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

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

Why You Should Get Security Freezes Before Your Information is Stolen

Here are tips for preventing ID theft and using a security freeze:

How To Avoid Identity Theft

How To Use a Security Freeze

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

PIRG Consumer Watchdog: Asbestos Found In Children's Products | Dev Gowda

The PIRG Consumer Watchdog team recently found that three different products sold by national retail brand Claire’s contain alarming amounts of asbestos. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it “unacceptable” for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos, and doctors say that there is no safe limit of asbestos.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Six Months Out From Equifax Hack, Are Consumers Any Better Protected? | Mike Litt

Consumers agree: Equifax must be held accountable for its wrongdoing. Yet the Trump administration and Congress still haven’t taken action to do that, or to better protect consumers from identity theft in the future. What are they waiting for?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Breaking The Cycle Of Debt: Why We Need The Payday Lending Rule | Mike Litt

We call them debt traps for a reason: Payday lending has long led to schemes that literally trap consumers in consecutive loans with obscenely high interest rates.

 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

We Need A Consumer Champion To Lead The Consumer Bureau | Mike Litt

 

From requesting no budget to moving the agency away from its mission, it’s clear: Mulvaney is not leading the Consumer Bureau, he’s trying to undermine it. That’s why we’re calling on our senators to only confirm a qualified consumer champion to permanently lead the Consumer Bureau. You can help by taking action now.

 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This Will Make Equifax Think Twice About How They’re Protecting Your Data | Mike Litt

New bill will ensure that credit bureaus protect your information as if you actually mattered to them, and will both punish them and compensate you when they fail to do so.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush releases legislation to increase transparency around important product injury and death data. 

Blog Post

Parents don’t usually expect the toys they buy to threaten their kid’s health -- especially when that toy is a smiling train from a popular kids show.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Consumer, public health and voter advocacy -- often from the national nonpartisan group U.S. PIRG and its affiliates -- moved the ball forward at the state level in 2019. 

Report | Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund

To prevent air and water pollution and the worst impacts of global warming, America must move toward meeting its energy needs with 100 percent renewable energy. Getting there will require that we get the most out of every bit of energy we use – and that we end the burning of fossil fuels in our homes and commercial buildings.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that discount stores T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods sold 19 different recalled products to consumers between 2014 and 2019. In the case of five products, the stores’ parent company TJX initiated the recall. The products included the Rock ‘N Play and Kids II inclined infant sleepers, which are responsible for a number of fatalities, rattles that can break and pose a choking hazard, and electronics that overheat or explode. 

Consumer Protection

New federal bill will make it easier for consumers to know about unsafe, even deadly products

If you had a product in your home that the government knew could cause injury or death, you'd expect the government to warn you, right? Surprisingly, that's not the case for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The "Safety Hazard and Recall Efficiency Information Act" seeks to change that.

 

Consumer Protection

The Trump administration's Consumer Bureau just appointed a task "farce" on consumer law

The Trump administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just appointed a new task force on consumer law — but according to senior director of PIRG's federal consumer program, Ed Mierzwinski, this task force isn't set up to be on the side of consumers. "It is a task farce," he said.

 

Consumer Protection

Ed Mierzwinski and Katie Murtha named top lobbyists of 2019

PIRG Federal Consumer Program Senior Director Ed Mierzwinski and Vice President of Federal and Government Affairs Katie Murtha have been recognized as being among the top lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

 

Consumer Protection

Watch out for unsafe toys this holiday season

Our annual “Trouble in Toyland” report found toys with choking hazards, recalled toys still for sale, toxics in slime and more.

 
View AllRSS Feed

Support Us

Your donation supports U.S. PIRG’s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code



U.S. PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.