Children could be more susceptible to certain toy-related hazards because they are likely to be at home more due to the pandemic, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund warns as it issues it’s 35th “Trouble in Toyland” report.
“This has been an incredibly difficult year, and parents and caregivers are overwhelmed,” said Grace Brombach, consumer watchdog associate for the consumer advocacy group.
Brombach said parents might do a quick search online for a toy to entertain their kids and trust that manufacturers and online vendors are guaranteeing their safety.
“This isn’t always the case, so parents need to be on guard,” she said.
It can be a difficult task, trying to keep kids of different ages busy with safe activities they can perform without supervision.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund researchers found that many toys have hidden dangers or missing warning labels and playthings such as magnets, balloons, and smaller toys can be deadly if they fall into younger children’s hands.
Here are some of the main categories from this year’s findings:
- Choking hazards: From small parts included in toy sets, to game pieces, many toys aren’t safe for children 2 years old or younger. This year’s report uncovered multiple examples of choking hazards that either lack a proper warning online or don’t have the mandatory warning label on the packaging.
- Loud noises: Noisy toys played on repeat aren’t just annoying. Sounds with decibel levels of more than 80 can cause potential hearing damage in children, and noises between 100 and 120 decibels can cause damage if they last more than one minute, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers found a toy fire truck for sale on Amazon noisy enough to potentially damage a kid’s hearing.
- High-powered magnets: Magnets of all types have posed risks to children for years. Some are part of toy building sets aimed at children as young as 3 years old, although some children that age don’t know not to eat or inhale them. And some magnets aren’t intended for kids; they’re more like fidget toys for adults, who can use “recreational” magnets to create shapes or figures.
- Recalled toys: Researchers found three separate recalled toys for sale on eBay, and in two cases, found full pages selling the recalled products.
“It is extremely troubling that recalled products continue to be found for sale online – which is unlawful,” said Dev Gowda, assistant director of Kids In Danger, an organization that works on child safety issues.
KID found that recalling companies post less than half of their recalls on social media, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission isn’t much better.
“The CPSC must do a better job of publicizing recalls and should take appropriate action against those who are selling recalled products,” Gowda said.
Brombach said to protect your children, do your homework and make sure dangerous products don’t get into your house in the first place.
“The pandemic has led to more unsupervised play for children of all ages,” she said. “Because of this, prevention is the best medicine.”