Keeping Our Kids Safe
Did you know that roughly three billion toys and games are sold in the U.S. each year? While that’s a statistic that most children would cheer, a number of these toys are responsible for hundreds of thousands of injuries every year. Regrettably, some of these injuries turn fatal.
A toy should provide hours of fun, not pain and suffering. But, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2013:
- Approximately 256,700 toy-related injuries sent kids to emergency rooms across the U.S.
- Of that number, approximately 73 percent of injuries happened to children 14 and under, and children younger than 5 accounted for one-third of all toy-related injuries.
- The most commonly affected areas of the body were the head and face.
- All nine deaths from toys in 2013 involved children younger than 12.
Which Unsafe Toys Are Causing Problems?
Nonmotorized scooters are still the category of toys associated with the most injuries—27 percent of injuries in children 12 and under during 2013. These scooters and other riding toys were responsible for more injuries than any other toy group. Two of the nine deaths in 2013 were due to riding toys.
Seven of the nine deaths in 2013 were due to asphyxiation. Children 3 and under are especially at risk for asphyxiation due to choking from toys and coins. Among products specifically for children, the biggest cause of choking deaths is latex balloons. A number of toys have been recalled for choking and asphyxiation risks over the years.
Injuries among children can also happen from the following causes:
- Burns, such as from a doll recalled in 2014 that had a circuit board in its chest. The dolls overheated and burned a number of children.
- Intestinal blockages, especially from magnets. A number of magnetic toys have been recalled because the magnets become unattached and are then swallowed by children.
- Lead poisoning can still be a problem with some imported products, especially toys from China for young children, who often put toys in their mouths. Extremely bright colors can be a tipoff that a foreign product’s paint contains lead.
- Entrapment and strangulation can occur when a child’s head and hands get caught in areas that would be safe for an adult.
- Chemicals can be a big problem. Years ago, the Public Interest Research Group discovered that nail polish for children contained dibutyl phthalate. This chemical has been linked to a number of health problems, including reproductive damage. Other risky chemicals found in children’s toys, often makeup and nail polish, are xylene and toluene. The latter is a common manufacturing solvent.
Back in 2007, a product called Aqua Dots was recalled after it was discovered that it contained a powerful “date rape” drug. Two children slipped into comas after eating Aqua Dots.
A number of watchdog groups publish lists of toys to beware of every year.
Toy Laws and Responsibilities of Manufacturers
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008 gave the CPSC new tools for fighting dangerous toys and products by:
- Providing definitions for children’s products
- Requiring children’s products to comply with safety rules
- Requiring testing by an accredited lab accepted by the CPSC to demonstrate compliance with the rules
- Requiring a written certificate showing compliance
- Providing permanent tracking information of the products, where possible.
Choking and lead paint hazards are addressed by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Child Safety Protection Act. As mentioned previously, however, lead paint issues continue to be a problem when it comes to imported products.
Toy manufacturers, like all manufacturers, have an obligation to make sure that their products are safe to use and to warn consumers of potential hazards. Toy manufacturers must also follow special toy-industry laws, such as including labels on packaging that state which age group the toy is appropriate for. Manufacturers must also warn toy buyers about potential choking, poisoning or other hazards. And on toys meant to be used without adult supervision, labels should be understandable by children in the appropriate age group.
Through a manufacturing accident, a flawed design or a missing or inappropriate warning label, hundreds of dangerous toys end up in children’s hands each year. When those unsafe toys kill or seriously harm a little one, their negligent manufacturers can and should be held legally responsible.
Securing justice for victims of unsafe toy accidents
The Louthian Law Firm is family-owned and family-focused. That means we’re concerned about every member of your family — even the smallest. If your child is injured by a defective or unsafe toy or product, it may be that the negligence of another person, organization or manufacturer had a role in the accident. If our investigation finds that to be the case, you have the right to ask the manufacturer for money to cover your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability or loss. In order to protect that right, you should speak with the experienced South Carolina product injury attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible.