How to avoid unsafe toys

It's up to parents to act as the last line of defence against potentially dangerous playthings.
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01 .Introduction

Toy safety standards have been developed over the decades to help avoid tragedy, yet potentially dangerous toys slip through the cracks every year. We've pulled on our safety goggles to find out how to avoid them.

In this article you'll find information about:

For more information about Children's health, see Health.

While some toys are pulled off the production line for testing, the one in your hand has probably never been tested. This makes parents the last line of defence, because serious injuries can and will happen.  

Toy recalls

With the Christmas season around the corner, toy retailers are stocking their shelves and importers are shipping in products from overseas to the tune of billions of dollars. Before toys make it into eager young hands, though, they progress through a maze of regulation and safety testing.

Around 73% of our imported toys, prams, games and sporting goods came from China in 2010 – about $1.87 billion dollars’ worth, according to the ABS.

While some big retailers in Australia, like Big W, perform their own safety testing, most of it occurs in overseas labs. This is generally not cause for concern – companies still need to meet local standards for safety and quality. However, the large volume of toys on the market means some unsafe toys will be sold. There were 39 recalls in Australia in 2010 and 11 as of October 2011 (most recalls typically occur from October on).

Recalled toys include:

  • A tandem trike sold at Toys “R” Us that had a faulty handle bar weld that that could fail and cause serious injury
  • Mr Squirrel Xylophone, a baby’s toy sold at the Reject Shop that presented a choking hazard
  • Stretchy Puffer Balls that look like glowing blobs on a string. Because of the elasticity, the ACCC determined that the gelatinous ball posed a strangulation risk.

Toys that may seem harmless to an adult can still pose a risk in younger hands. Parents should put their kid-goggles on when assessing what might go wrong.

Check our Product recalls section, or if you're unsure about a toy or children's product you've purchased.

Toy-related deaths and injuries

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2009 report shows 12 toy-related deaths in children under the age of 15 and 186,000 injuries that led to the emergency room. Ride-on toys like bikes and inline skates topped the list as most dangerous followed by toys with small parts.

There is no similar recent data available in Australia, however there are some statistics that shed some light on toy-related injuries:

  • Kidsafe Victoria reported in 2007 a total 140,000 children visited an emergency department, but this included non-toy-related accidents.
  • reported 9006 accidents in the same year involving trampolines, of which 10% resulted in admission to hospital.



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