If you’ll be buying toys as Christmas presents this festive season, you need to be aware of hidden hazards that can put your children at risk of injury and death.
According to Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys, these dangers are highlighted in a report just released by toy safety advocacy group, World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH). In the report, WATCH lists the toys most likely to cause injuries for the 2019 holiday season.
What the report found
- WATCH highlights some of the classic safety hazards that continue to re-appear annually. These include poorly designed toys, as well as inconsistent and inadequate warnings, cautions and age recommendations.
- WATCH also highlights projectile toys that could fire with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries and toys that encourage children to jump or ride with the potential for head injuries. Some of these toys are sold without the proper safety gear or marketed with inconsistent safety messages.
- WATCH points out that classic toy dangers, such as small parts, strings, projectiles, toxic substances, rigid materials and inaccurate warnings and labels, continue to be manufactured by the toy industry in newly designed packaging.
- The report also outlines the impact of online purchasing on toy safety, up-to-date information about toy recalls and the necessity for more stringent oversight of the toy industry.
Kirstie agrees and says that unfortunately there have been many deaths, disfigurements and disabilities inflicted upon children as a result of poorly designed and tested toys. “This is alarming considering that many toy-related injuries are preventable,” she says. “In South Africa thousands of potentially dangerous toys hit the shelves and end up in the hands of children because of the lack of legislation ensuring toys sold are safe.”
She continues: “Warnings on toys for sale in South Africa should certainly, at the very least comply with the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards). Beyond any regulatory/statutory requirements however, there is a duty on a toy manufacturer to take reasonable measures to ensure not only that a toy is safely constructed/manufactured, but also to ensure that adequate warnings are given regarding the safe use of a toy.”
WATCH’s 2019 nominees of worst toys (many of which are available in South Africa) in that they are deemed to be unsafe are:
NERF Ultra One
According to WATCH, the manufacturer of this dart ‘blaster’ boasts that the ammunition ‘fires up to 120 feet [60m]’ with ‘powerful speed’ making this the ‘farthest flying NERF dart ever.’ The darts provided can shoot with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries.
Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog
This ‘hedgehog’ sold as a toy for children as young as 18 months old, comes with 12 removable, rigid-plastic ‘quills’, each measuring approximately 9cm long. The quills can potentially be ingested and block a child’s airway.
Bunchems! Bunch ’n Build
Bunchems! Bunch ’Build are multi-coloured activity balls that are meant to stick together when children engage in building activities. There have been reports of the plastic, connective toys becoming tangled in children’s hair.
This soft creature is sold as a cuddle toy for children at oral stage (between birth and 18 months). The toy has long, fibre-like hair that may not be adequately rooted, which means it can be removed with just minimum pulling from a child. Once separated from the toy, the hair presents the potential for ingestion or aspiration injuries.
Nikelodeon Frozen Treats Slime
This colourful ‘slime’ has the appearance of real frozen treats children enjoy, such as ‘mint chocolate chip’, ‘berry smoothie’, and ‘soft serve.’ At the same time, the manufacturer issues a warning regarding ‘harmful chemicals’ while advising: “Not real food – do not eat.”
Anstoy Electronic Toy Gun
Given the numerous tragedies resulting from outfitting children with realistic toy weapons, there is simply no excuse for marketing toys such as this ‘submachine gun.’ Detailed replicas mistaken for lethal weaponry have resulted in numerous deaths over the years, and should never be sold as toys.
Diecast School Bus
These miniature yellow school buses are sold with a ‘choking hazard’ warning on a removable, stick-on label. The rubber tyres, mounted on plastic wheels, can be removed, presenting the potential for a serious choking injury for oral age children.
Pogo Trick Board
Children using this pogo trick board with ‘high bounce ball’ are provided with dual handles for tricking out. Despite the manufacturer’s warning to wear a helmet and other protective gear, only 2 of the 3 children shown on the packaging are wearing helmets, and none are using other protective items.
Power Rangers Electronic Cheetah Claw
The Power Rangers ‘BEAST Morphers’ claws are made of rigid plastic. Five-year-old children are encouraged to use the ‘strength of the Cheetah Claw’ to ‘take on enemies!’ The manufacturer simultaneously advises children not to ‘hit or swing at people…’
Viga Pull Along Caterpillar
Despite the industry’s standard requiring strings on playpen and crib toys to be less than 30cm in length, manufacturers are still permitted to market ‘pull toys’ such as this one with a cord measuring approximately 60cm. No warnings are provided.
About DSC Attorneys:
DSC Attorneys is a reputable Cape-based law firm that has a proven track record specialising in personal injury and road accident claims throughout South Africa. The firm works on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis. For more information go to www.dsclaw.co.za
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