NC-based consumer group issues 36th annual report on unsafe toys as Christmas approaches

Consumer Watch

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A consumer group is issuing a warning for parents doing holiday shopping this season. The group says parents need to watch out for dangerous toys.

To help you do that, The North Carolina Public Interest Research Group has issued its 36th annual Trouble In Toyland Report.

This year, one of the group’s big concerns is counterfeit toys.

One of the problems the consumer watchdog found with counterfeit toys is a lack of labeling.

A brand-name toy typically comes complete with a warning label and a guide for the proper age to use it –right there on the package.

However, a knockoff toy just comes in a package with no age labels or warnings, just a product identification number. That leaves parents with no idea what age is recommended for the toy’s use or what the dangers of it might be because counterfeit toys haven’t been tested.

“It should alarm parents they could buy products that haven’t undergone safety testing,” said Belle LaMontagne of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group.

With the supply chain spotty, more parents may also look to the internet to buy a toy from a third party. The consumer group says to be careful with that.

“Online you may unknowingly buy recalled toys,” says LaMontagne. “On eBay we found listings for recalled toys that didn’t mention the recall or didn’t note whether it’s been fixed so that it was legal to re-sell.

Joan Lawrence of Toy Association says the best way to prevent that is to avoid third-party sellers.

“If you shop online, shop at retailers you know and trust,” said Lawrence

The report also cites concerns about small button batteries being ingested by youngsters. It’s a problem that pediatric emergency room doctors say is increasing.

At WakeMed in Raleigh, Dr. Andy Jakubowicz says when it comes to toy injuries, their pediatric ER handles more cases of children aged 3 and younger than any other age group.

“We’ve seen changes in the nature of injuries,” said Dr. Jakubowicz. “More things now than when I started (as a pediatric ER Doctor) have batteries in them.”

“We’re seeing more injuries as a result of these batteries,” he added.

The industry trade group, The Toy Association, says the law requires batteries for toys to be in locked compartments.

“When you see an issue with toys and batteries that come out of toys, it’s usually because a battery removed from a product when it was being changed was left within a child’s reach,” said Lawrence.

The industry claims the United States has some of the strictest toy laws in the world.

“In fact, other countries often emulate our safety standards,” said Lawrence.

When it comes to safety there are several things parents can do to protect their kids:

  • Make sure your toy is age-appropriate
  • Keep toys for older kids out of the hands of younger kids
  • Check the security of battery compartments

The Toy Association also offers parents resources on its Play Safe website which offers recall information, online shopping tips and a safe toy buying guide among other things.

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