Safety First for Holiday Toys
Consumer advocates have come out with their annual holiday shopping tips designed to help Santas everywhere avoid dangerous toys. There is good reason for parents to be careful while picking out presents this holiday season. Even with new lead standards in place as part of a landmark consumer safety bill passed in August, dangerous toys are still on the shelves. In fact, because new safety standards won't take effect until early 2009, retailers may discount dangerous toys to get them off of their shelves before the deadline.
How can you best protect your familiy while shopping for toys? Arm yourself with the best information. Visit http://www.recalls.gov/ to make sure none of the toys on your list have been recalled. Or check out the latest from the Public Interest Research Group, who lists ways to protect kids from toy hazards. Parents are also learning that the internet provides a great forum for sharing information and helping others out with lessons from their own experience. Mom-written blogs like http://www.safemama.com/ and http://www.safbaby.com/are indespensible.
As for shopping tips, keep these in mind:
Don't by toys with magnets or costume jewelry for toddlers. Keep the "Toilet Paper Rule" in mind...if a small piece of the toy can fit through the the cardboard toilet paper tube, it's a choking hazard.
Don't buy used toy, which may be chipped or cracked.
Avoid toys made with PVC, which often contain hormone-like chemicals called phthalates. They are often marked with a Number 3 recycling code.
Buy only brand name toys. Big companies are not failsafe, but they have a huge stake in keeping toys safe and protecting their name and goodwill.