World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (WATCH) recently released their picks for the annual compilation of the top ten worst toys for children, just in time for the gift-giving season. The “10 Worst Toys of 2013” covers a range of popular gift suggestions on the toy store shelves this holiday, and personal injury attorneys in New Jersey recommend that parents check the list before hitting the stores, to ensure that this year’s presents are safe for their kids.
For over forty years, WATCH has published a list of popular toys that could cause serious injuries or even death, raising awareness about the dangers posed by shoddy manufacturing, inappropriate age group targets, and other problems. In the United States, more than three billion toys and games are sold every year, and on average, some of those toys land more than 250,000 children in the hospital or emergency room. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that in 2011, thirteen children under the age of fifteen died due to toy-related injuries.
This year WATCH has labelled realistic looking guns, slingshots, boomerangs, and other projectile toys as dangerous and unsuitable for children. The first toy on the list is an Army Force Automatic Rifle that the group says looks too similar to a real automatic weapon, and promotes violence and “dangerous and unnecessary thrills.” In an interview, Joan Siff, the group’s president, cited a recent tragedy in Santa Rosa, CA—a local police officer shot and killed a thirteen-year-old boy when he mistakenly identified the boy’s toy gun as a brandished weapon. Other weapon-style toys such as the Max Steel Interactive Steel with Turbo Sword and the Boomerang Catch and Throw also made the list this year.
Among the most unsafe toys is a Disney Princess backpack that comes with the following warning: “Contains lead. May be harmful if eaten or chewed. May generate dust containing lead.” The backpack is marketed to girls as young as four years old. WATCH’s list highlights the dangers of toys with trace lead elements, especially chemical poisoning and other ingestion injuries. Other dangerous toys that made the list include a drum set with hazardous drumsticks, and a Snow White doll with a small, removable plastic headband.
Personal injury lawyers in New Jersey are warning parents this year to check the labels on the toys they buy. Look for classic hidden hazards such as lead or other toxic substances, hard plastic or rigid materials that could snap and cause cuts, small parts that can easily be choked on, strings, or projectile objects. Small or ingestible parts continue to rank high on the list of reasons for toy recalls. The CPSC reportedly recalled twenty toys this year due to choking and ingestion risks.
At New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, our personal injury attorneys caution parents to choose wisely, and do their homework before buying gifts this year. Although we as consumers cannot ensure that toys are designed and manufactured safely, we can protect children from hazardous toys by checking recall lists, the WATCH Worst Toy lists, and avoiding common dangers.