Next month is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. During the month of December, campaign sponsors including the National Safety Council and Prevent Blindness America work to build public awareness of the dangers facing infants, toddlers, elementary schoolers, tweens, and teens from toys and games sold for their pleasure, education, or enjoyment.
That’s great! We need to do everything we can to keep kids of all ages protected from injuries. Our law firm is committed to helping keep kids safe from harm as well as helping children that have been seriously injured in accidents of all kinds.
Which is why we’re focusing upon Holiday Safety Issues this week. Today, our focus is on children and the danger of child accidents from toys and games.
Holiday Promotions for Toys and Games Begins Earlier and Earlier Each Year
Each year, holiday promotions for children’s toys and games seem to start earlier. The advertising begins long before December 1st, when National Safe Toys and Gifts Month takes off.
Some stores had Santa-themed displays as early as September this year! If you shopped anywhere in Indiana or Illinois in the past few weeks, then you probably witnessed it yourself. Retailers are definitely promoting the purchase of toys and games as gifts long before Halloween.
It’s called the “Christmas Creep” by Forbes in its September 29, 2016, article by Laura Heller entitled, “Consumers Embrace Early Christmas.”
We need to correspond to this advancing advertising with greater awareness of the hazards facing our children during the holidays. Especially disturbing: the very real dangers of kids getting seriously hurt by toys or games over the holidays.
Rising Risks to Children from Defective and Dangerous Toys and Games
Kids get hurt while they play with toys. According to John Hopkins University, using research statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and others, the following is true:
- over 200,000 children need emergency room care for toy-related injuries each year;
- most toy-related injuries do not require hospitalization; and
- there will be children who die each year from toy-related injuries.
Looking at the issue from another perspective, let’s consider the number of product recalls by toy manufacturers in the United States. These are toys and games acknowledged by their toy maker as being dangerous and likely to harm a child.
Several sites keep track of recalled toys and games, including Consumer Reports and the CPSC. Each year, we witness a shocking number of children’s product recalls after they are on retail shelves and even sold for innocents to use.
Increasing Danger to Kids from Toys
It is a growing concern. Research studies warn the danger of kids getting hurt by their toys is rising. For more, read the CNN article, “Toy-related injuries send a record number of kids to the E.R.,” published in December 2014.
This makes the upcoming holiday season especially dangerous for some of the most vulnerable among us: our children.
Suggestions for Choosing Toys and Games for Your Children
Experts have lists of tips and suggestions on how best to choose the toys and games your child can use and enjoy. Don’t fall prey to the temptation to buy the latest fad – a toy’s popularity does not insure it is safe!
- Do not buy or allow your child to use any toy with dangerous edges. Look for broken corners. Check for sharp points.
- Do not purchase toys that look fragile and easy to break. Especially if they are made of materials that might break into shards or shreds that can cut or slash a child, or fly into their eye.
- Some things you consider to be playthings are not toys. Fishing poles are not toys. BB guns are not toys.
- Stay alert to news reports of dangerous toys being sold in the marketplace. For example, hoverboards were very popular during the 2015 Holiday Season, until they started catching on fire.
- Is the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) okay with this product? If so, then the toy or game meets the national safety standards of this non-profit safety organization. You will know by the “ASTM” designations or symbols on its packaging.
Child Accidents and Injuries to Kids from Toys
When children are hurt from playing with a toy, it’s especially infuriating. What can be more important than keeping kids safe when they are playing?
Toys that harm children can do so in a variety of ways. Legal claims to help them get justice after they have been seriously hurt by a toy or plaything are based upon state negligence or products liability laws.
Product Liability Laws for Defective Toys
If a toy is manufactured, distributed, advertised, and sold for a child to use, then it needs to be safe for that intended use. If the toy design is defective in some way, like it bursts into flames, then it is a defective product.
Product liability laws work to help victims of that defective product recover damages that can include medical expenses, long term health care needs, rehabilitation costs, and more.
More than one defendant may be involved in these cases. The toy maker, as well as the retail store that sold the defective product and others in the distribution chain may share liability and legal responsibility for the harm that the child suffers from that defective toy.
Toys in Child Accidents Caused by Negligence
Other cases involve a child hurt from a single toy or game that causes severe injury in an accident. Here, the toy on its face is not defective. However, the involvement of that child victim with that toy results in a serious accident.
These are negligence cases, where a child is hurt by the toy not because of the product itself, but because of the negligence of another.
In these situations, the toy itself may cause the injury and permanent harm to the child victim. However, those responsible will not be the toy maker but those adults responsible for overseeing the children while they are at play.
Examples can include:
- A day care center fails to supervise children at play, and a toddler is hurt by falling on a toy.
- School children allowed to play with toys designed for kids more advanced in maturity or physical ability.
- Coaches fail to make sure the students are wearing protective eye-gear before the game begins.
No one wants to consider that our children suffer seriously injuries or die from toys and games, but these tragedies happen. It’s critical that we know as much as we can about toy safety in order to keep kids safe.
Let’s all support December 2016 as Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Be careful out there!