Before your children enjoy those holiday gifts, there are some important things you should check and do to keep your children safe.
- Check toys for any small parts that may have loosened during shipment, especially if you have children younger than 3 years old who may be likely to put things in their mouths.
- If you have children of a range of ages, make sure older children know to keep toys away from younger siblings. Toys such as Legos and doll accessories could pose a choking hazard to children under 3, or any child who may put things in their mouths.
- Check whether any toys — new or old — have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission because they have some kind of defect and pose a risk to children. Go to cpsc.gov/recalls And report problems with defective toys to saferproducts.gov
- Read warning labels and instructions for safe use.
- If there are toys that take batteries, make sure the compartments are secure, particularly if lithium button batteries are involved. They can be deadly if a child swallows one. And when you change batteries, make sure the old batteries are disposed of safely.
- With any “smart toys” that include things like microphones, cameras, or bluetooth or internet-capability, carefully read the instructions and terms and conditions to learn what the toy can do and data it may collect about your child — and what the company does with that data.
- Watch out for painted jewelry, cheap metal or other toys with paint that seems to chip off easily. The objects could contain lead, which is particularly harmful to children’s developing brains and nervous systems.
Consumer Watchdog, U.S. PIRG Education Fund
Teresa directs the Consumer Watchdog office, which looks out for consumers’ health, safety and financial security. Previously, she worked as a journalist covering consumer issues and personal finance for two decades for Ohio’s largest daily newspaper. She received dozens of state and national journalism awards, including Best Columnist in Ohio, a National Headliner Award for coverage of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and a journalism public service award for exposing improper billing practices by Verizon that affected 15 million customers nationwide. Teresa and her husband live in Greater Cleveland and have two sons. She enjoys biking, house projects and music, and serves on her church missions team and stewardship board.