Group promotes “Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys”

With the onset of the Christmas toy bonanza, a non-profit watch group has called on consumers to be on the alert for play things that may bring harm instead of joy to young children.

In a bid to promote consumer vigilance against dangerous toys, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with an eight-point “Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys” that will come in handy for toy buyers this gift-giving season.

“Not all toys are created equal. There are plenty of toys out there that have not passed quality and safety standards. It is therefore very important for consumers to be extra careful when shopping for gift items to prevent hazardous toys from reaching the hands of our children,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With the health and welfare of young children in mind, we have come up with toy shopping tips to assist consumers in selecting safe toys this Christmas season,” he said.

Safe toys, according to the “Santa’s Guide,” must be 1) age-appropriate, 2) well-made, 3) no small parts, 4) string shorter than 12 inches, 5) injury-free, 6) not coated with lead paint, 7) not made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and 8) duly labeled and registered

By following “Santa’s shopping tips,” children will be safer from play things that may pose chemical, choking, laceration, poking, strangulation and other safety hazards to their developing minds and bodies, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

1. Choose age-suitable toys. Check the recommended age on the product label and select the one that is appropriate to your child’s age, abilities, habits, and maturity level. Refrain from buying toys that are not labeled for age appropriateness.

2. Pick toys that are durable and well-made. A sturdily made toy will last longer and will be safe for parts that could break or fall apart with frequent use. Detached or shattered parts could injure or pose a choking hazard to a curious child.

3. Shun toys with small parts to reduce the risk of choking. Marbles, tiny balls and toys with button batteries and small components pose a choking risk. As a general rule, toys and toy parts should be bigger than a child’s mouth.

4. Avoid toys with a cord longer than 12 inches to prevent strangulation incidents. Toys with a cord or string longer than 12 inches can be deadly as it can wrap around the neck and asphyxiate a child.

5. Go for injury-free toys. Refrain from procuring toys that can injure a child’s ears, eyes, skin and body such as toys with pointed parts, sharp edges and those that can eject small objects such as toy pellet guns.

6. Think lead-free. Refuse painted toys if there is no assurance that the paint used is safe from lead, a neurotoxin. Toys should be painted only with lead safe paints to prevent a child from being exposed to this toxic chemical that can cause intellectual impairment and mental retardation, among other adverse effects.

7. Opt for toys that are not made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic to prevent a child from being exposed to harmful chemicals additives such as toxic phthalates that can leach out when a toy is chewed or sucked.

8. Seek duly labeled toy and childcare articles (TCCAs) that are notified with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Notified TCCAs have undergone the FDA’s quality and safety verification procedures.

Toys that are properly registered with the FDA will provide the following information on the product label: the license to operate (LTO) number of the toy manufacturer or distributor, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name.

“Keep your children safe by following ‘Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys’ this Christmastime and all year round,” Dizon suggested.