Shop smart: Recalled toys, safety tips

This photo provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows the Children\'s Riding Toy, manufactured by The Step2 Company LLC, of Streetsboro, Ohio, that is being recalled because of a fall hazard where children who lean too far forward on the seat can go over the handle bar and hit the ground. (AP Photo/U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Unsafe toys that may injure children are still on the shelves this holiday season, despite the recall of dozens of toys and millions more blocked by port authority inspectors.

More than 193,000 children were hurt when playing with toys last year and 13 kids were killed, according to numbers the Consumer Product Safety Commission released Thursday. Three of the deaths were caused by kids choking on balloons, says Patty Davis, spokesperson for the CPSC.

Click here to read a list of the recalled toys listed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

One of the toys the CPSC has tried to recall is Buckyballs. The high-powered magnets that pull apart are easy to swallow. And that’s just what a 3-year-old girl did, reports NBC News. She swallowed 37 little magnets that then connected together inside her stomach and large intestine, squeezing her from the inside. After emergency surgery, the girl is okay.

The CPSC is taking the maker of Buckeyballs to court after it refused to recall the item, Inez Tenebaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission told NBC. The manufacturer says it plans to fight the lawsuit, saying Buckeyballs are marketed to adults, not children, according to the report.

While the magnets remain on the shelves, there are millions of toys that will never make it there. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, working with the CPSC, have blocked two million toys shipped from overseas from going into the market

“We are targeting shipments, we are seizing them if we find they violate law and we’re sending them in for further testing to our lab in Rockville, Md.,” Davis says.

That’s where the CPSC scans toys for lead and other harmful toxins. But beyond the paint on a toy is its construction.

“What we’re finding that’s coming into ports and stopped from getting into childrens’ hands are toys that have small parts that could break off and choke a child, as well as other toys that could be dangerous,” Davis says.

It’s important for parents and grandparents to shop for age appropriate toys, Davis says. The age marked on the toy reflects the cognitive ability that toy requires. Often, toys for older children have small pieces that younger kids may put in their mouths.

Another thing to watch for: outdoor toys. In 2011, the No. 1 injury seen at the emergency room involving toys were caused by non-motorized scooters. Not only do kids require supervision when playing with toys outside, Davis says, make sure to invest in safety equipment like a helmet and knee pads for your child when buying them a riding toy.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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