Tips to reduce risks from toys and games that might slip through net
CHOICE says that, despite strict regulations to avoid injury or worse, potentially risky toys are still being sold and parents and carers need to know what to look out for.
With almost $2 billion¹ of imported toys, prams, games and sporting goods coming on the market every year, CHOICE says it’s inevitable some hazards slip through the net.
Government figures show that 39 unsafe toys were recalled in 2010. So far in 2011, eleven toys have been recalled including; a tandem trike with a faulty handlebar weld, a baby xylophone which presented a choking hazard and stretchy puffer balls toy deemed to be a strangulation risk.²
CHOICE typically tests 300-500 toys every year, and an off-the-shelf test in 2007 of 30 toys found around 50% failed safety standards.
“Some big retailers conduct their own safety testing but there’s no strict guideline as to where problems toys might turn up. Bargain basement stores buy in unbranded cheapies which may not have to same quality checks as big brands, but well-known names have had recalls too,” said Christopher Zinn, CHOICE spokesman.
CHOICE toy safety tips include:
- Watch out for choking hazards for the very young - either from small parts, packaging or toys which are easily broken into any bits which can fit into an old 35mm camera film canister. Such parts are in breach of mandatory safety standards
- Pay attention and follow warning labels—they are there for good reason, especially for swimming aids and flotation devices
- Large toys or toy boxes—if it’s large enough to climb into it should have ventilation, as should masks and helmets
- Toys/games/products to watch out for include; trampolines which were involved in 9000 reported accidents in 2007; baby walkers which require adult supervision because of the risk of trips and falls and beanbags because the polystyrene beads can present a choking hazard
- Loud noises - noisy toys can cause hearing damage is held too close to the ear
- Lollipops pose severe risk for kids who have them in their mouths when running around
“While we have good product safety standards in Australia, parents and caregivers are really the last line of defence. They should check the toys and take any supervision or safety instructions seriously,” says Zinn.
Read CHOICE’s report on toy safety.
¹ Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade figure – www.dfat.gov.au
² Most toy-recalls occur in November and December.
Christopher Zinn - CHOICE, Director of campaigns and communications: 0425 296 442.