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Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys is warning parents to be aware of the dangers some toys can pose to the health and well-being of their children following a report by non-governmental organization (NGO) World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) that was issued in November last year.
The NGO listed the ten most dangerous toys for 2017, which have caused injury and even death. WATCH was created 45 years ago to monitor and prevent these kinds of accidents by highlighting which toys have the potential to hurt children.
Its 2017 list named:
- Hallmark’s Itty Bittys Baby Stacking Toy
This Disney branded toy consists of plush stackable rattling rings. The rings have fabric hats and bows that detach too easily, becoming a choking hazard. Hallmark did recall this toy due its potential as a choking hazard in August last year and refunded parents who’d bought it.
- Tolo Toys’ Pull Along Pony
This plastic pull along pony has a cord that exceeds the allowable length. This poses a strangulation or entanglement risk to children.
- Mattel’s Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword
Wonder Woman may have been a hit and created a following among young boys and girls but her sword that she uses to battle Ares in the hit movie has proved a problem. It is made from rigid plastic that can cause facial injuries when children are play fighting with them.
- Kipp Brothers’ Hand Fidgetz Spinners
Fidget spinners were created to help develop fine motor skills in autistic children but it ws soon heralded as a great stress buster in the workplace. However, for children it’s a hazard as some of them have detachable rings that can become a choking hazard once removed from the spinner. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has also warned that older children should not put the spinners into their mouths because some of the light up products come with lithium coin cell batteries which can lead to severe burns if they are ingested. It added: “There have been some reports of fires involving battery-operated fidget spinners. Like any battery-operated product, consumers should be present and pay attention to their devices while charging them. It is important to use the charging cable that either comes with the fidget spinner or one that has the correct connections for the device as charging cables are NOT interchangeable.”
- Mattel’s Spiderman Spider-Drone (Official Movie Edition)
This drone has high-speed rotating blades that can cause serious injury to fingers, eyes and faces.
- Hasbro’s Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt Crossbow
Designed specifically to fire projectiles, this “crossbow” poses a risk of eye and facial injuries.
- Slackers Slackline Classic Series Kit
This acrobatic kit is marketed as 5+ but the potential for injuries from falls is very high with this tightrope-like device and the line itself could be a strangulation risk.
- Plan Toys’ Oval Xylophone
This toy comes with a small, narrow drumstick that would be easy for a baby to stick down their throat, causing injury and obstruction.
- Razor’s Jetts Heel Wheels
These strap-on wheels have a skid pad that creates real sparks when braking. These sparks are a burn risk as they could ignite hair and certain fabrics.
- Melissa & Doug’s Brianna Babydoll
This doll has many small items that are removable and could be a choking hazard to babies and small children.
At the time of writing these dangerous toys mentioned in the report are readily available in store and online in South Africa on sites such as Wantitall and Fruugo.
Haslam warns that as well as avoiding these toys highlighted, parents should look at types of toys that pose dangers. She refers to a recent article which appeared in the AAJ (American Association for Justice) Journal quoting Rachel Weintraub, the legislative director and general counsel for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) who highlighted that choking is a leading type of toy injury as toys for children six and under often include small parts.
Weintraub says that riding toys that are either ridden on the street or in a driveway where vehicles can’t see them are another hazard and that off-highway vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVS), pose serious threats too. She said that in 2015, ATVs killed at least 58 children under 16, accounting for 17 percent of all ATV fatalities that year in the US.
Commenting on how the landscape of children’s products safety has changed in the past 10 or 20 years, Haslam points out that new technology presents risks that are not adequately addressed before the products are put on the market.
She cites the example of hoverboards, which are not considered toys, but children obviously interact with them. She says that the traditional hoverboard hazard is the fall hazard, but the battery packs are more cause for concern – they’re new technology that poses a fire risk.
Haslam says that in its toy recall report for 2017, Safe Kids Worldwide lists top toy recalls for the year based on their danger and number of units. Included are several models of self-balancing scooters/hoverboards, plush toys, and list-up spinners. In total, the list represented a staggering 3,605,310 units of toys.
Internet buyers beware
In a statement WATCH warns internet buyers to beware and compares the internet to the ‘Wild West’ when it comes to outlawed toys and states that shoppers may expect that there are checks and balances in place to prevent the online sale of recalled toys, toys already deemed to be unsafe, but unfortunately this is not always the case. They say that regulations and safety protocols for e-commerce transactions are often nonexistent or inadequate. They also highlight that consumer-to-consumer ‘second-hand sales’, which are inconsistently monitored, if monitored at all, provide new opportunities for recalled toys to surface.
Claim for damages?
Haslam says that if you or a dependant is injured by a dangerous toy that doesn’t carry the required warnings, you might be entitled to claim damages and that under South African law, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and suppliers can all be held liable for damages caused by defective or hazardous products.
She says that the Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was introduced to safeguard South African consumers from flawed or defective goods, whether the goods are locally produced or imported. “It provides clear remedies for those affected by defective or dangerous merchandise,” she explains. “A consequence of the Act is that the onus is no longer on the consumer to prove fault or negligence in a product liability claim. The entire supply chain is now required by law to ensure that all products are safe for their intended uses.”
However, because of the complexity of this type of personal injury cases Haslam says it is wise to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney, which has extensive experience in handling product liability claims including claims involving injuries to children.
For more toy safety tips (particularly when buying toys online), click here.