It was that special moment of the year in which we have to buy a gift that we know will make our children happy: Christmas, a birthday, Children’s Day or another festive date. But when it comes to buying gifts for children, it’s not just about it being something they want, it’s about something safe, and not something that will hurt them. We have also asked ourselves: How can I know if a product is safe for my son or daughter? What happens if this toy hurts my granddaughter or grandchild? You are not alone in this.
For its part, devices and “toys” for our loved ones adults could also be dangerous (ask anyone who has given or received the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 as a gift).
So, what should we avoid buying this year? How can we make sure that we are buying a safe gift? We will explain, below.
Investigate about the toy
The first thing you should know about a toy before buying it, is whether there has been an alert to consumers about it or a call to recall it , known as recall , in English. This is something that you should investigate yes or yes about products in general, and even more so when it comes to toys.
In general, in the case of automobiles and cell phones, companies have the data of the owners to be able to communicate directly with the possible consumers affected by the failed product. For example, this year, Samsung decided to disable Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones in the United States through a software update after the scandal of the incidents of the explosion of the batteries of these phones.
In November, WashPIRG, a Foundation of the Public Interest Research Group, published its 31st annual Trouble in Toyland, which lists the toys that the Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States. (US Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC) withdrew from the market due to potential hazards during January 2015 and October 2016. According to reports, many of the toys in the report were still sold on the Internet.
There are also non-profit organizations, such as Safe Kids, that offer a complete list of all children’s products and possible hazard alerts.
Always try to do a Google search by putting the name of the product to verify that it has not been removed from the market or there are alerts to consumers about it. Many times in the forums and criticisms of other consumers you can find out earlier and better about the dangers of the product. Remember that, sometimes, the investigations around the dangers of a product take time to demonstrate and not always all the products that are available in the market are safe.
Read and control the label
The Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States. It is responsible for regulating all products, apart from cars, food and medicines. Fortunately, the agency carried out extremely strict measures regarding toys, which include some of the most difficult regulations in the world when it comes to toys, including third-party tests and specific documentation for toys intended for children under 12 years.
However, you should check the label of everything you buy, especially if it is toys. Here are some examples of what you need to keep in mind when reading the label:
- If the toy is made of cloth, it must be fire resistant
- Painted toys need to specify that they were painted with lead- free paint
- Art materials should be labelled as non-toxic
The label of products such as crayons and paints should read “ASTM D-4236” to verify that they have been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Ask yourself many questions, such as the following: Does the product contain chemicals that can be harmful? If it is a stuffed toy or a doll, is it washable and therefore hygienic? Does it contain lithium batteries that can be dangerous?
Once you have read the label, you can make a more informed decision about whether to buy the product and if you buy it, what warnings you should take into account.
When using a product, it is also important that we follow the instructions. Things are made to work in a certain way, and each time we deviate from proper use, a product could become unsafe.
Use common sense
If you are buying gifts for a child, you should also verify that the toy or product is not only safe in general, but also that it is safe specifically for the child.
Appropriate age? Make sure the toy is suitable for the age range of the child who will receive it. Keep older brothers’ toys away from the little ones
The design is key. Buy high quality toys and they were built correctly
Keep the sound low. Discard giving very noisy toys because they could harm the hearing of the little ones.
Make the toy safe. Buy all the protective equipment intended for the gift you are buying. If you are buying a bicycle for children, be sure to buy other safety items such as the helmet, elbow pads and knee pads.
Pay attention. Supervise children under the age of eight when they play, and also when they unwrap the toys so that the packaging materials are not a choking hazard.
Keep the batteries away from children.
Remember the maintenance. Toys deteriorate and wear out, being safe. For this reason, inspect the toys periodically to make sure there are no exposed wires and that their service life has not expired.
Learn what you should avoid
Each year, the World Against Toys Causing Harm Association publishes a list of the most dangerous toys of the year, to alert the public before making their Christmas purchases.
There are some toys, however, that you should never buy from children. In the case of children under three years, you should keep away from all toys with small parts or lithium batteries (also called button batteries) as they can cause suffocation in children.
Balloons and magnets pose a serious threat if swallowed. Young children tend to put everything in their mouths. It is also necessary to be careful with plastics. Check if the package is clearly marked to make sure there are no chemicals. Stay away from toys with ropes or straps over 7 inches, as they pose a risk of strangulation.
You must be careful when buying toys for older children. Any toy with heating elements or sharp points and edges are not suitable for children under eight years of age.
Always be sure to supervise your child when he is playing.