Be toy safety aware this Christmas

in Features

The Office of Fair Trading has carried out an awareness programme to help consumers identify unsafe toys. Ensure the safety of your child this Christmas by following this simple guidance. 

What to look out for:

Button cell batteries 

These are one of the most dangerous hazards for young children. Not only are they a choke hazard, they can do serious damage if swallowed. Saliva combined with the electrical current causes a reaction that can lead to severe burns. A toy that conforms with appropriate safety standards will have button batteries enclosed in lockable compartments that cannot be opened by children. If you ever suspect that your child has swallowed a button battery, seek medical help immediately. 

Magnets 

Not only are loose magnets a choke hazard, if swallowed, they can stick together and cause serious life-threatening damage to childrens’ digestive systems. Make sure magnets cannot be detached from the toy and swallowed by your child. If you ever suspect that your child has swallowed a magnet, seek immediate medical help.

Choke hazards

Check whether a toy can cause choking by pulling and tugging at it before giving it to your child. Usually, if the item easily fits inside a toilet paper roll it means that the toy is unsafe for a child that’s younger than three. Latex balloons also pose choking risks to younger children. 

Who are you buying from?

UK and EU toys must comply with high safety standards. Toys that come from other countires, may not. Only buy from reputable traders, particularly when purchasing online. 

Fake toys do not undergo rigorous testing before being placed on the market and may therefore catch fire, fall apart, contain dangerous chemical content or pose choking hazards. 

Check the toy’s packaging and labels as these should contain the manufacturer’s or importer’s name and address. 

Safety markings

There are several symbols that you might find on a toy or children’s fancy dress. The symbols indicate that the toy complies with safety standards.

‘CE’ marks – Products with this marking are tested for conformity with EU health, safety and environmental standards. Children’s costumes (including wigs, masks and other accessories) are classed as toys and should bear the ‘CE’ marking. Facepaints marketed for children should also carry the ‘CE’ marking.  Watch out for fake CE markings however! See ‘How to spot a fake ‘CE’ mark’ below.

‘UKCA’ mark – The ‘UKCA’ mark has been introduced in the UK following Brexit. This mark will be displayed on products which are in conformity with applicable UK standards.Therefore consumers may now find products displaying either the UKCA mark, the EU’s CE mark or both.

Age-appropriate marks – Toys that may be dangerous for children under three may contain this graphic. There should also be a brief indication of the specific danger. 

Age and size suitability

If you have older children keep their toys out of reach from the younger ones.Toys should be appropriate for your child’s age and size. While the ‘Age Warning’ mark shows what toys are suitable for children under three, all children develop differently so take your own child’s ability into account. Outdoor toys such as bicycles that are too large or small for a child can also lead to unnecessary accidents.

How to spot a fake ‘CE’ mark

The ‘Chinese export’ mark is similar to the EU’s ‘CE’ mark but is not an official European mark. Unlike goods with a genuine ‘CE’ mark, other ‘Chinese export’ marked toys may not have to comply with the same safety standards as the UK or EU and do not guarantee that it conforms with standards designed to keep children safe during play. 

In the diagram note:

• the ‘CE’ mark’s letters are placed further apart from each other than the Chinese mark; and

• the middle line of the ‘E’ on the genuine ‘CE’ mark is shorter than the top and bottom lines. Some none genuine ‘CE’ marks have 3 equal lengths on the ‘E’. 

The information contained in this article is
intended as awareness and is provided for
guidance and educational purposes only. It should not therefore be regarded as, or relied upon, as legal advice.

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