When you buy a toy for your child, the last thing you hope to do is put them at risk of injury or death. Luckily, we live in a country that takes protecting the youth seriously. Through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), manufacturers and importers of toys must meet toy safety standards that include but are not limited to flammability, moving parts, choking hazards and the materials with which the toy is created or painted.
Unfortunately, specifically with imported toys that you may find in discount stores, many toys slip through the cracks. How does this happen? Well, there are a few unfortunate loopholes that can put your children in danger if you are not careful. One truly tragic instance occurred when a 4-year-old child choked on a Disney-themed marker cap. The product contained no choking hazard warning, yet was not technically within violation of the CPSC’s standards since markers do not fall into the category of “toys.”
Loopholes such as this one aside, you may be surprised to read that the CPSC only inspects less than one percent of all imports. This makes the risk/reward for many unethical importers worth the gamble of being caught importing toys that surpass acceptable lead levels or do not warn buyers of small pieces.
Another conflict of interest rears its head in the actual toy safety inspection process. Lab testers may side with the producers and importers of these potentially hazardous products, being lenient or turning a blind eye to violations that could mean major monetary losses for the companies. The CPSC mandates that third-party testers are utilized, though the unfortunate truth is that some dangerous products, especially from China, make their way to U.S. shores.
So, what can you do as a parent to protect your little one? Most importantly, use common sense and examine all toys bought for children before and after purchase. Avoid purchasing toys, especially for young children, at discount chains. An investigation in 2012 exposed Dollar Tree as the largest violator of the CPSC’s standards.
As a parent or guardian, understand that you are the last line of defense to protect your children from potentially harmful toys. If your child is injured due to the negligence of a toy manufacturer or importer, please contact us to discuss your case with an experienced product liability attorney.