Checking a toy’s safety is a parent’s job, and that’s not just for new toys either. Many children have cupboards full of toys, some of them dating back years, and, particularly for young children, regularly checking toys are safe and without loose parts could actually make a life or death difference.
“Give existing toys a safety once-over,” advises Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust.
“Check there are no loose parts or wires and that button batteries are secured out of reach of little fingers.”
And as for new toys bought for Christmas, Katrina stresses: “You can no longer assume that, just because you can buy a toy, it must be safe.
“It’s a frightening fact that cheap toys sold on online marketplaces can pose serious dangers to children. So take care if you’re shopping on online, avoid cheap copycat toys, and opt for brand names you know.”
The British Toy and Hobby Association, which helps promote toy safety, stresses that toys are strictly legislated, and reputable companies ensure they make toys to the high standards required by law.
BE CAREFUL BUYING ONLINE
Not everything online platforms sell is supplied by them.
Kerri Atherton of the British Toy and Hobby Association warns: “We have become increasingly concerned about the sale of unsafe toys by third-party sellers via online marketplaces, after our recent study found nearly half the toys tested were unsafe and failed to meet essential toy safety requirements.
“Consumers should take extra caution when purchasing toys online to know who they’re buying from.”
Bargains may be too good to be true, warns the Office for Product Safety and Standards, which suggests people buying toys should compare the price with other sellers and warns that if it’s a great deal cheaper, it’s likely to be counterfeit.
CHECK ONLINE SELLERS
If a toy is sold by a company you’ve never heard of that doesn’t have a UK or EU address, and the price is low, be aware that it may be illegal and unsafe.
The organisation says unsafe, illegal toys can include those with super-strong magnets that can rip through a child’s belly if swallowed, toys with accessible button batteries that can burn through a child’s food pipe if swallowed, toys with long cords, ribbons or cables that can strangle children, and cheap electrical toys with chargers that can catch fire or wires that can cause electric shocks.
“Look for UK companies who comply with UK toy safety standards, as marketplaces aren’t responsible for safety testing,” says Katrina Phillips.
CHECK AGE AND
Check the safety and age warnings on toys and make sure the toy is appropriate for the age of your child.
CHECK FOR APPROVED SAFETY MARKS
Look out for the CE mark or Lion Mark – these show a toy has been made to approved safety standards. The UKCA mark also shows a toy conforms to UK law.
DON’T ASSUME OLD
TOYS REMAIN SAFE
Check well-loved toys have no loose parts or loose stuffing or filling that may be swallowed.
CHECK FOR LOOSE WIRES
It’s also important to look out for any loose wires or button battery compartments that are not secured.
Old toys have usually been through the wars and could become unsafe as a result, and Phillips suggests: “Watch out for very old toys where the plastic has become flimsy and is likely to break, creating sharp points.”
Sarah ClissSenior Reportersarah.firstname.lastname@example.org