Christmas 2017 – Which Toys Should Be on Your “Naughty” List of Unsafe Toys

November 30th, 2017 by Guajardo & Marks, LLP

As always the Guajardo & Marks family wants you and your family to have a Merry Christmas!  In order to help make that happen, they have once again pulled together some expert information on which toys should be on every parent’s “naughty” list of unsafe toys. (Unfortunately, your child’s “wish list” for Santa and the “watch out” list below may contain some of the same toys.)

Here is a list of a few of the more popular toys that W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about dangerous children’s products and protecting children from harm) cautions parents to “watch-out” for this Christmas:

FIDGET SPINNERS

Despite their popularity, fidget spinners and many other fad toys may not be safe for children. Fidget spinners can fall apart and the small pieces can then potentially become lodged in a young child’s throat.

Although the CPSC is investigating the fidget spinners due to the risk of choking when the spinners fall apart, Fidgets still remain one of the hottest selling toys this year. There have been two more recent cases reported, one involved a ten-year-old in Texas and the other involving a five-year-old in Oregon. In both situations, the children choked on a part of a fidget spinner and were taken to the hospital. One child had to have the piece of the spinner surgically removed. Therefore, it is important to remember, just because a toy is popular doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe. Make sure you know all of the facts and what injuries have been reported before choosing toys for your children. It is extremely important to avoid toys for young children that may present a choking hazard.

HOVERBOARDS and LITHIUM BATTERIES

One of the most popular outdoor items over the last several years, self-balancing scooters, better known as hoverboards, remain a serious safety concern. Since 2015, when they first made headlines for their tendency to spontaneously burst into flames, hoverboards remain as a toy parents should be concerned about. In addition, many stories have been written and news reports aired about the hazards associated with hoverboards and lithium batteries. Unfortunately, although there have been increasing reports of hoverboards being associated with fires, injuries and deaths, hoverboards are readily available for purchase and continue to put children at risk.

Hoverboards and lithium batteries continue to be linked to tragic consequences, including numerous injuries and deaths from fires. The lithium-ion battery packs in the self-balancing scooters can overheat, posing a risk of fire and/or explosion. Below is a list of facts and occurrences in the last 2 years:

  • Hoverboards have been banned by numerous retailers, schools and airlines.
  • In the short time period between December 1, 2015 to February 17, 2016, there were 52 reports of fires from hoverboards in 24 different states.
  • May 2017, the CPSC requested consumers to immediately stop using LayZ Board self-balancing scooters (hoverboards) due to the risk of fire after two young girls tragically died in Harrisburg, PA.
  • March 2017: a three-year-old girl died in a fire associated with a hoverboard plugged into an outlet for charging.
  • March 2017: 500 units of self-balancing scooters were recalled after reports of the boards smoking.
  • July 2016: over 501,000 units of hoverboards were recalled after 99 reports of the battery packs overheating, sparking, smoking, catching fire and/or exploding, many causing burn injuries and property damage.
  • February 2016: the CPSC declared hoverboards to be unsafe due to “an unreasonable risk of fire” and cautioned “consumers risk serious injury and death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn.”

TOYS WITH BATTERIES AND SMALL PARTS

This is not a new issue or problem.  However, recently there have been numerous recalls addressing the issue of toys with parts that can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children. These are often “hidden hazards” because they are difficult for parents to identify at the time of purchase.  Therefore, they must be prevented with better design and before-market testing long before they are sold or reach the toy store shelves. There have been an estimated seven (7) recalls for choking hazards in the last twelve months. This is evidence of the continued problem of small parts on toys sold to young children.

It is important to always watch out for toys that are choking hazards for young children. It is always important to be familiar with the types of choking and ingestion hazards associated with a toy. Hidden hazards can reappear after year including toys with covers that can fall off exposing small batteries. Always check toys for long slender parts, pieces that could easily break off and soft materials that could be ingested and block a young child’s airway.

WHEELED TOYS: NON-MOTORIZED SCOOTERS

Non-motorized scooters are responsible for the most toy-related injuries. These toys are most often associated with traumatic brain injuries, impact injuries and even death.

An estimated 53,000 injuries associated with non-motorized scooters were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2015 (estimated 45,900 of these injuries are to children under 15 years old). In 2015, there were 4 reported deaths involving non-motorized scooters and motor vehicles. Defective design and manufacturing of a product can increase the potential risk of injury. It is important to research and know which toy/scooter you are buying as many have been recalled as recently as May 2017.  If your child is allowed to use non-motorized scooters, never let them ride near traffic or without the proper safety gear it could truly save their life.