December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month - Choose Wisely - That Perfect Toy Might Not Be So Perfect

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Christmas is an exciting time of the year, especially for children, in anticipation of the toys they will receive from Santa, friends, and family, yet if not properly selected, toys chosen may cause injury even death. A report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) titled ”Toy-Related-Deaths-and-Injuries-Calendar-Year-2022 states an estimated 209,500 toy-related emergency department-treated injuries and 11 toy-related deaths occurred in 2022 among children 14 years of age and younger. The largest number of injuries were associated with non-motorized scooters among children of all ages; children 14 years of age or younger.

The CPSC has the most stringent toy safety standards in the world. Their collaboration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who manages over 328 of the nation’s ports, regularly seize shipments of counterfeit toys and other merchandise that fail to meet federal safety standards and therefore, are prohibited entry into the U.S.  These toys often contain lead and are in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

In October 2021, CBP Officers, at the Port of Baltimore, seized a shipment of approximately 300 children’s toys destined for Fairfax County. The toys contained high levels of toxic chemicals coated with lead, cadmium, and barium in levels beyond CPSC safety measures. Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP Office of Trade John P. Leonard states, “As a parent and someone who loves the joy of holiday gift-giving, I understand the importance of ensuring the gifts we buy for loved ones are genuine.  Counterfeit goods aren’t just limitations; they can compromise your health and safety.” CBP Officers protect American consumers against substandard and potentially unsafe counterfeit goods that could harm consumers and businesses.  According to CBP, the manufacture and sale of counterfeit merchandise rob legitimate businesses of revenue, deprive American workers of jobs, and pose health and safety threats to U.S. consumers in which, the proceeds from these counterfeit sales often support other corrupt and illegal businesses.

As a part of a robust safety system, the CPSC provides strict enforcement and toy recalls informing consumers about the removal of faulty products from the distribution chain as a means of protecting children from unreasonable risks, serious injury or worse. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month.  The Prince William County Fire and Rescue System, in conjunction with CPSC, urges individuals to carefully select toys prior to purchase to reduce toy-related injuries and deaths.  

During the holiday season and throughout the year, follow these simple safety tips when purchasing toys:   

  • Check the label: Choose age-appropriate toys by reading the age label on the toy.
  • Children younger than 3 should not have access to toys with small parts, which can cause choking. Also avoid marbles and small balls for children under 3.
  • Get safety gear: With scooters and other riding toys, supervision is key along with proper safety gear that includes helmets. Helmets should always be worn properly and should be sized to fit. Avoid riding a scooter on a street or roadway with other motor vehicles.
  • Hoverboards: Although not considered a toy, hoverboards should be compliant with UL-2722 safety standard. Buy from a retailer that requires UL certification as standard. Hoverboards that don’t have this certification should be avoided.; and
  • Be careful with magnets: High powered magnet sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children under 14. Building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children.

Once Gifts Are Open

  • IMMEDIATELY discard plastic wrappings from toys.
  • Keep toys for older children away from younger children.
  • Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers.
    • Battery charging should be supervised by adults.
    • Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children.
    • Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging. 
  • Keep button batteries away from younger children.
    • A child can swallow a button battery and suffer dangerous chemical burns in as  little as two hours. DO NOT leave products with accessible button batteries within reach of children.

Checking It Twice

Before discarding that gift list, make sure items purchased DO NOT appear on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recalled toys or children’s products list Throughout the year, consumers should always check their homes and toy boxes for previously recalled toys as well.

To receive recall e-mail notification, visit U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or call their toll-free hotline (800) 638-CPSC (2772) (TTY 800-638-8270).   

To report an unsafe product, visit

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