Parents urged: know and avoid dangerous toys
Just in time for Black Friday specials, a national consumer group is warning parents of potentially dangerous toys and gifts for kids.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released its 33rd annual “Trouble in Toyland” report detailing hazardous and mislabeled toys, including concerns over tech items with recording devices.
“No parent should have to worry about whether the toys they are purchasing are toxic or potentially harmful for their children,” said Bay Scoggin, state director for the organization’s Texas office, flanked by doctors at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio.
As in prior years, balloons were a main concern. Balloons are the top cause of choking deaths from children’s products and most balloons sold on Amazon were not appropriately labeled as a choking hazard, Scoggin said.
The Children’s Hospital trauma doctors remove something from a child’s throat about a once a week, said Dr. Ian Mitchell, medical director of the trauma program.
Recently, doctors there have treated toddlers who swallowed small batteries that became lodged in their esophagus, where they can damage tissue. The Children’s Hospital has seen four such cases in the past six weeks.
“The difference between a button battery and a coin is the difference between a loaded gun and just a piece of metal,” Mitchell said. “A 2-centimeter button battery in the esophagus of a child will melt through it in just under two hours.”
It’s become such a national issue that hospitals have developed protocols specifically for such instances and treat them as a trauma, Mitchell said.
Around the holidays, doctors also see a spike in children rushed to the hospital for some sort of injury from playing with a toy, Mitchell said, likely because of more new toys and more people in the house for social gatherings, meaning less supervision of the kids.
The report also expressed major privacy concerns about increasingly popular toys embedded with Bluetooth devices and internet connectivity. Despite it being illegal, some toys record children and sell the data to marketers and other third-party retailers, Scoggin said.
“These toys are toys that your children can interact with, which is such a neat thing that I wish I had had in my childhood,” Scoggin said. “Unfortunately, one of the things that is happening is the Bluetooth speakers are listening to the children’s information and gathering data on them.”
Scoggin urged parents to research tech toys before buying them. A list of most privacy-invasive toys is compiled on www.toysafetytips.org.
More than 150 toys have been recalled as a result of the group’s reports.
Last year, Target pulled the trendy fidget spinners from its stores after the group’s report found they contained lead levels above federal regulations for children’s toys.