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 | 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
Report | U.S.PIRG Education Fund and Kids In Danger | Consumer Protection

Recalled Infant Sleepers

Every day, millions of kids are dropped off at child care facilities across the country by parents and caretakers who are looking forward to seeing them safe and sound at the end of the day. But new research found some dangerous recalled products are still in use at child care facilities across the country.

> 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

Pages

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Expert testimony reveals CVS-Aetna merger will harm American health care

For the past two days, experts testified in front of U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in a unique hearing to determine whether the proposed settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice, CVS Health and Aetna is in the public interest.

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

U.S. PIRG: CVS-Aetna merger bad for American healthcare

A merger already approved by the Justice Department is undergoing an extremely rare hearing in federal court.

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

U.S. PIRG celebrates 10 years of the Credit CARD Act

U.S. PIRG celebrated the 10th anniversary of the passage of the groundbreaking Credit CARD (Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure) Act today by joining with the law’s chief sponsor Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) at a U.S. Capitol press conference.

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

You're Not Alone: CFPB Complaints on the Rise

While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new director entertains removing its consumer complaint database from public view, that website feature is proving its worth. The CFPB published a record 257,000 consumer complaints in 2018, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund. That brings the total to nearly 1.2 million since the CFPB began collecting complaints in December 2011.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | U.S. PIRG & Center for Digital Democracy | Consumer Protection

Comments to U.S. Treasury Department on Online Marketplace Lending

In response to a "Request for Information" from the U.S. Treasury Department, last week U.S. PIRG and the Center for Digital Democracy filed a detailed comment recommending that regulators take a close look at the activities of a new "Big Data" financial sector of online marketplace lenders, which includes so-called "peer-to-peer" lenders. While the sector has potential to be innovative and provide lower-cost loans to consumers, and to improve financial opportunity for underserved consumers, there are risks in "light-touch" regulation.

> Keep Reading
Report | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Mortgages and Mortgage Complaints

Our sixth report analyzing complaints in the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database evaluates mortgage complaints, the number one source of complaints to the CFPB, totaling 38% of nearly 500,000 complaints posted since 2011.

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

Trouble in Toyland 2014

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found numerous choking hazards and five toys with concentrations of toxics exceeding federal standards. In addition to reporting on potentially hazardous products found in stores in 2014, this installment of the report describes the potential hazards in toys and children’s products.

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

We Urge CFPB To Provide Mobile Financial Protections

Along with the Center for Digital Democracy, our co-investigator on a series of projects related to "big data" and financial opportunity, we've filed detailed comments to the CFPB regarding the need for strong consumer protections as more and more consumers use mobile financial services. We argue that "mobile technologies and services pose both opportunities and risks to consumers, their privacy, and to the kinds and price of services they are offered."

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

The Unfriendly Skies

Consolidation in the airline industry, along with pressures created by new security rules and the recent high cost of aviation gasoline, has changed the way we fly. It seems as if every consumer has an airline travel story—how they were trapped on the tarmac, tricked by fees, missed their connection, or lost their bag.

What many consumers don’t know is that they do have a number of new rights as well as a right to complain, both to the airline and to the government.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumer Tips and FAQ about the Equifax Breach | Mike Litt

Hackers gained access to the personal data of over 145 million Americans in the Equifax breach. Here are some recommended actions consumers can take to protect themselves and answers to frequently asked questions.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

U.S. PIRG Education Fund Files Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court Supporting States in Antitrust Litigation Against American Express | Michael Landis

On July 6, 2017, U.S. PIRG Education Fund filed with the U.S. Supreme Court an amicus brief supporting several states who are asking the Court to review a Second Circuit judgment that allows American Express to prohibit merchants from encouraging customers to use lower-priced payment options.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Slow and Steady Progress Getting Toxic Chemicals out of Soaps, Shampoos, and More | Dev Gowda

In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of progress. Consumers are at the forefront of making that happen, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to harness consumer preferences and push several companies to do better. Here’s what’s happened over the past year.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Men: The Lead in Your Hair Dye Could be Harming You | Kara Cook-Schultz

Lead acetate is a substance used since the Roman Empire added it as a sweetener to food and drinks. But today we don’t drink it — we know that lead acetate can cause serious health problems. Some health risks posed include lung irritation, abdominal pain, nausea, high lead levels in blood and urine, cancer, and even death in the most serious cases.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Court rules that people should be protected from untested pesticides | Kara Cook-Schultz

A groundbreaking court victory came out yesterday: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an important pesticide law and ruled that pesticides can’t be sold until they’re tested for safety. 

> 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.