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LOWRY: Bad toys can make December dangerous

The holidays are always an exciting time of the year for young children. However, December can be a dangerous month for kids because of hazards posed by defective toys and dangerous products.

When you buy a children’s toy, you expect it to be safe. However, these products are not always designed and manufactured with the safety of children in mind. In fact, toys purchased as holiday gifts have the potential to be defective or to pose a variety of safety concerns.

The No. 1 toy-related danger for children under the age of 4 is choking. Toys with small parts, like dolls with button eyes or small wheels on miniature cars, can pose a choking hazard for young children. Toys with cords or strings can increase the chance of strangulation. Plastic shrink wrap, balloons, bolts and round batteries can restrict young airways and present a serious danger.

Any toy or piece of a toy that is small enough to fit through a 1.25-inch circle — or measures smaller than 2.25 inches in length — can be unsafe for children under 4. Always pay attention to age recommendations on toy packages. Never allow your child to play with a toy intended for an older child.

In addition to choking hazards, toys can pose a danger due to lead contamination. With so many toys manufactured outside the U.S., safety can be a serious issue. In recent years, lead contamination has been a concern, particularly with regard to products made in China.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a number of recalls of toys that could potentially expose children to lead. In 2007, Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels, recalled nearly 1 million toys because the products included lead paint.

Many children’s toys have inherent risk and can pose an injury, even when used responsibly. Each year, approximately 95,000 people suffer trampoline-related injuries requiring emergency room treatment. Installing and maintaining an enclosure around a trampoline is important. Children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk of injury on a trampoline.

Just because a product is available at a local store or can be purchased online doesn’t mean it’s safe. Defects can occur in a product’s design, in faulty instructions or in the individual parts the item is made from. A recall typically goes into effect when the government and a manufacturer work together to remove dangerous goods from store shelves nationwide.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission updates consumer recall information regularly at www.cpsc.gov. Be sure to check this site for details about the latest toy recalls before you complete your holiday shopping list.

If your child has been injured by a defective children’s product, you may be able to hold one or more parties in the manufacturing chain liable, from the manufacturer and the assembler to the wholesaler and the retailer. Rules and regulations vary by state, so be sure to contact a Georgia attorney who specializes in product defect claims.

 

Stephen G. Lowry is a partner with the law firm of Harris Penn Lowry LLP who handles defective product claims. He can be reached at steve@hpllegal.com or 912-651-9967.

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