Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Oct 29, 2014

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Toys with a design or manufacturing defect may put children at risk of serious injury. Toy manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe for children, but many children suffer toy-related injuries every year. As a parent, there are ways to better ensure that your child’s toys are safe and that you remain aware of recalled products.

Toy Defects

Hazards presented by common toy defects can often be avoided by closely inspecting the toy. Small pieces of a toy may break off, potentially leading to choking or suffocation. Ribbons, strings and cords also pose the threat of strangulation, even if these pieces are retractable. Some toys look as if they should be eaten, potentially leading to choking or gastrointestinal problems by young children. Other products, especially electronic toys, may put children at risk of burns and shock. And older toys have been found to contain harmful chemicals like lead.

Toy Recalls

A toy is recalled when a manufacturer or retailer deems that toy defective or potentially hazardous. The toy may be removed from use or simply require a replacement part. Some manufacturers voluntarily recall products after they have been placed on the market. Other manufacturers are required to recall products by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an agency that oversees toy safety and regulations.

How To Know If Toys Are Safe

The CPSC website maintains a list of recalled items by date. Details regarding the recall are listed on the website including where the toy was sold and dates the product was manufactured. As a parent, this website is valuable because it details whether to throw the toy away. Some recalled toys simply require a replacement piece.
To determine the safety of a toy, inspect the label to make sure it is age-appropriate for your child. Manufacturers are required to follow guidelines and label toys for specific age groups. The label should also indicate whether there are items in the toy that might be choking hazards. For young children under three, avoid buying toys with small parts that may pose a choking risk. Examples include marbles, balls, and games with balls that have a diameter of 1.75 inches. Older toys and hand-me downs may not meet current safety standards. And finally, an important aspect of ensuring child safety is supervising play.

If You Suspect a Dangerous Toy

If you suspect a dangerous toy, take it out of a child’s reach immediately. Always err on the side of caution and do not let your child play with a toy you believe may be unsafe. Check the CPSC website for the latest information about toy recalls or call their hotline at (800) 638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe. Make sure that you have as much information as possible to describe the toy, including the manufacturer, model and year of manufacture.