Regulators promise safer toys this year

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

They're making a list and checking it twice, and they're confident they have a pretty good handle on who's been naughty and nice.

Officials with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission want to prevent a repeat of the 2007 holiday shopping season, when unsafe lead levels and other potential dangers prompted a record number of toy recalls.

Last month, in its annual holiday safety message, the commission insisted that "vigorous inspection of toys, testing and law enforcement have made toys the safest this season." Under new rules, toys must be certified by an accredited third-party lab. The commission said it's also working closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to check shipments of imported toys before they reach store shelves. "I'm very happy to see we're having a much greater impact on keeping out unsafe products," said Daniel Baldwin, the customs agency's assistant commissioner for international trade.

Last year, the recall of more than 25 million dolls, games, trinkets and play sets left retailers with some empty shelves and parents with one nagging question: Is any toy safe? "Actually, even now, all I think about is the problems with toys made in China and all the recalls that occurred last year," Tom Everard, 43, of Hilliard, said during a recent visit to The Shops on Lane Avenue. For Everard and his wife, Lori, the 2007 recalls hit close to home. One targeted a Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway set-the favorite toy of their daughter, Rachel, then 31/2. "I had to take them out of her hands last year," the girl's father recalled.

Jeff DeLeone, a 39-year-old Upper Arlington resident, said he and his wife, Lara, will be extra vigilant in shopping for daughter Gina, 4, and son James, 11/2. "With two young kids, we're always looking and considering safe toys-toys that don't have small parts they can swallow or get hurt on," DeLeone said. "We look at toy labels closely and certainly what the Consumer Product Safety Commission puts out."

In its safety message, the commission said there are plenty of things that parents can do to help protect their young children. They might want to think twice, for example, before buying what the commission described as its "top five toy hazards:" scooters and other riding toys; small balls and other toys with easily swallowed parts; balloons; magnets; and battery chargers and adapters. Improper use can result in deadly falls, suffocation or serious burns, the commission said.

Other recommendations:

  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous playthings.
  • Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
  • Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers; some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging.

For updates on toy recalls this season, call (800) 638-CPSC (2772) or visit