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Safety Tips for Purchasing Toys and Other Products

There is no way to guarantee that any consumer product is safe, whether imported from abroad or manufactured in the United States. The chronic lack of adequate funding and resources at federal safety agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission has drastically reduced the government’s ability to ensure product safety in the marketplace.

The primary responsibility for product safety rests with the manufacturer, importer, or retailer of the product. So buying from well-established, reputable companies is important.

Consumers-including parents concerned about their children’s safety-can do several additional things to avoid buying dangerous toys or other products:

  1. Visit the recalls section of the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to determine whether a specific toy or product has been recalled by the manufacturer and the Commission.  Do not purchase any product that has been subject to a recall.
  2. Do not purchase any product that has been reported by the press or any public interest organization as containing dangerous chemicals such as asbestos or lead, or as having other hazardous components.
  3. To choose appropriate toys for children:
    • Read labels. Look for toy labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide.
    • Also look for sturdy construction, such as tightly-secured eyes, noses and other potential small parts.
    • For all children under 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points. Once the gifts are open, discard plastic wrappings immediately before they become dangerous playthings.
    • Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings or neighbors.
    • Do not buy the “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Fingerprint Examination Kit” distributed by Planet Toys of New York.   (It has been found to contain asbestos.)
  4. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging. Look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) symbol on electronics. The symbol means that they meet voluntary safety standards.
  5. If you believe you have purchased or observed a toy or other consumer product that is hazardous or contains any hazardous component, do not hesitate to contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission and advise them of the problem. The Hotline number is (800) 638 2772.