Toy safety tips for holiday shoppers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the holiday season approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges gift-givers to keep safety in mind when choosing toys for young children. In 1998, CPSC received reports of 14 toy-related deaths and estimates that more than 120,000 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries.

"Toys are an important part of holiday gift-giving, and CPSC is on the job 365 days a year to make sure toys are as safe as possible," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "CPSC's goal is to prevent deaths and injuries; unfortunately, each year some children are hurt by toys. By always reading labels and being safety conscious, parents and caregivers can help prevent toy-related injuries."

CPSC requires labels to be on all toys marketed for children from 3 years old up to 6 years old if the toys pose a choking hazard to children under age 3. These labels tell consumers two critical things: That a toy is not safe for younger children and why it is not safe. Before CPSC issued these labeling requirements, it was more difficult for consumers to know that certain toys they bought for older children could be a danger to younger kids.

CPSC has the most stringent toy safety standards in the world, and toys on store shelves are safer because of the day-to-day compliance work by CPSC. In fiscal year 1999, CPSC obtained 95 toy and children's product recalls involving about 60 million product units to help prevent tragic injuries and deaths. CPSC obtained some of the largest toy recalls in the agency's history, including more than 10 million ride-on battery powered vehicles, more than 10 million toy basketball set nets, and more than 19 million dive sticks.

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