Toy-related deaths involving children younger than 15 years old continue to decrease from 19 deaths in 2010, to 18 in 2011, 16 in 2012, and nine in 2013 (based on reports, to date). As more death reports are received, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) expects the total for 2013 to be higher than nine.
The majority of the toy-related fatalities in 2013 were attributed to asphyxiation or choking; six of the nine fatalities were from choking on small parts, such as parts of toy figures, a rubber ball, balloon, plastic toy food and a marble. Additional deaths resulted from riding toys, including an incident in which a child was hit by a truck while riding on a scooter.
A new report released recently by the CPSC, estimates that there were 188,400 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2013 to children younger than 15 years, down from last year’s 192,000. Many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy. For example, the CPSC received these hospital emergency-room treated reports last year:
- An 11-year-old girl was killed in a scooter incident after being hit by the left rear wheel of a vehicle.
- A 21-month-old girl was found floating unresponsive in an in-ground pool. The victim’s toy stroller was lying underwater at the bottom of the pool and it appeared that the victim was pushing her play stroller when she fell into the pool. The victim died later in a hospital.
In 2013 riding toys continued to be associated with more emergency department treated injuries for all ages than any other category of toy. Riding toys were associated with 82,100 (32 percent) of the estimated injuries. Non-motorized scooters accounted for 74 percent of the estimated injuries related to riding toys for all ages.
In fiscal year 2014, toy recalls remained low, with 30 toy recalls, one of which involved a lead violation. This compares to 172 toy recalls in fiscal year 2008, 19 of which were due to excessive lead content. The majority of toy recalls announced last year involved ingestion hazards, as well as mechanical hazards that pose a threat of injury to children.
The following are some safety tips for consumers to keep in mind this holiday season:
- Magnets – Children's magnetic toys are covered by a strong safety standard that prevents magnets from being swallowed. High-powered magnet sets that have small magnets are dangerous and should be kept away from children. Whether marketed for children or adults, building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children.
- Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children younger than eight years old. Discard torn balloons immediately.
- Small balls and other toys with small parts - For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking - the major hazard for this age group.
- Scooters and other riding toys - Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times and they should be sized to fit.
Once gifts are open:
- Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
- Battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.
The United States CPSC, Health Canada, and the Consumer Protection Agency of the United Mexican States (Profeco) are joining forces this year to protect children across North America from dangerous toys. Strong safety standards that are enforced, inspections at import, and emphasis on quality safety manufacturing overseas are key components of this collaborative effort aimed at creating a safer toy shopping marketplace for North America’s families this holiday season.
With more than $800 million worth of toys, games, and children’s vehicles coming from Canada and Mexico into the United States each year, there is good reason for the CPSC to continue to work closely—bilaterally and trilaterally—with Health Canada and Profeco. Products produced in or imported from outside North America can find their way into another jurisdiction through our extensive shared borders.
This trilateral work on greater integration has led to joint industry training and coordinated consumer education, including trilateral recall announcements. Additional efforts have included joint oversight of product supply chains and timely responses to emerging product hazards.
“We are all working together this holiday season with one goal in mind- that the toys North America’s parents bring home for their children are safe,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. The Government of Canada is committed to working cooperatively with the U.S. and Mexico to promote awareness of a number of product safety issues, including the safe selection and use of toys," said Wai Young, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South. “Children are the most vulnerable consumers. This forum is the most suitable framework to seek appropriate regulatory mechanisms,” said Lorena Martínez Rodríguez, Profeco’s Federal Consumer Attorney.
In addition to working with Health Canada and Profeco, the CPSC works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to keep violative products off of store shelves and out of consumers’ homes. In the past 6 years, the CPSC and the CBP have stopped more than 11 million units of about 3,600 different toys that violated applicable standards from coming into the United States.
See the CPSC Announcement
See also Medical Law Perspectives, February 2013 Report: Emergency Medical Services: Liability and Immunity for Medical Rescue