Toy Safety – Information & Resource

Toy Safety Information & Resource for Recalls:

Toy recalls have been an issue that we have followed here at Lil’ Duck Duck, and we want to share this new resource with you. Rachelle Lacroix sent the following information to assist you in having the latest and most reliable information on such a critical subject as safe toys for your children. From Rachelle’s email:
The Toy Industry Association (TIA) which recently launched the new toy safety website www.toyinfo.org.

Aiming to both reassure and educate consumers on the industry’s rigorous safety standards and testing processes, the site contains answers to tough questions on what the industry is doing to ensure safety and how parents can help.

Concerned parents and consumers can also have questions answered at TIA’s new toll free call center at 888-88-4TOYS (operating hours are 9 AM to 9 PM ET). Additional content includes:

– The state of toy safety
– Independent expert perspectives on toy safety from the medical and child safety communities
– News updates
– Behind-the-scenes toy testing and design videos
– Recall notifications
– Toy buying tips from Safe Kids Worldwide

Also included in Rachelle’s information is a brief Q&A with Joan Lawrence, Vice President of Toy Safety. A mom of three, Joan has been with TIA for 15 years and oversees its Toy Safety Assurance Program. You can find additional information in a brief video by Joan on the Toy Safety homepage.

Q&A with Joan Lawrence, Vice President of Toy Safety at the Toy Industry Association
Joan Lawrence is the Vice President of Toy Safety at the Toy Industry Association (TIA) and also the mother of three young children. In the following Q&A, Joan discusses the most important toy safety information parents need to know, TIA’s new toy safety site, yesterday’s well-publicized recall of Aqua Dot toys, and some of the top toy trends this holiday season.

1.) You’re a mom and the Vice President of Toy Safety for the Toy Industry Association. What do you say to reassure parents who are concerned about toy safety in light of recent recalls?

As a mom of three young children, I understand how the recent toy recalls can seem overwhelming and frightening. I always recommend to parents that they first check the recall reports and then their own homes to see whether the products they own are affected. If you have recalled products in your home, it is important to follow the instructions in the recall notice. (Recall notices for all products can be found at www.Recalls.gov).

But once you’ve done that, how can you be sure that toys in general – in your own home and on store shelves – are safe? There are widespread efforts underway in the toy industry right now; retailers and manufacturers are retesting products for this fall and the upcoming holiday season to be sure that the products on shelves are safe and comply with our tough U.S. standards. If an issue emerges, the company moves quickly to recall the product and take it off the shelves. We are pushing for a federal law to make toy safety testing mandatory, and we’re working overtime to implement initiatives to strengthen the overall toy safety process going forward.

Finally, I always like to offer some perspective on the issue for parents like me. While the recalls may seem overwhelming, in fact, toys in the U.S. are very safe. Recalls account for a minute percentage of the 3 billion toys that are sold in the U.S. annually. Nonetheless, as an industry, we are working hard to strengthen the toy safety process and ensure consistent testing and inspection. For families with additional questions, I recommend they check out our toy safety information website www.ToyInfo.org or call our toll-free helpline 1-888-88-4TOYS.

2.) Everyone knows about the recalls of toys with lead paint. How big is the problem and should parents be worried about toys made in China?

The toy industry is very concerned that lead has been found in the paint in some toys. This is absolutely unacceptable. We have a new initiative to ensure consistent testing and inspection of products so that this does not happen again. For now, two facts can help parents assess the relative risks of toys. First, parents should know that toys are statistically among the safest products in a household. Toy recalls account for less than one percent of the 3 billion toys sold in the U.S. annually. Also, all toys sold in the U.S. must conform to U.S. safety standards, regardless of where they are made. Secondly, medical experts and toxicologists say that a child’s exposure to lead from a recalled toy would likely be minute under normal use. They encourage parents to focus instead on the primary sources of lead in a child’s environment – from paint in old homes, lead in old plumbing, and other environmental sources.

3.) Why are Aqua Dots toys being recalled?

Aqua Dot toys have been recalled after a finding that the colored beads may contain an ingredient that converts into a hazardous chemical when ingested. Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression, or have seizures. Parents should immediately remove the toys and can contact Spin Master for a credit or replacement.
We’re extremely concerned that a potentially hazardous substance may have been substituted for the manufacturer’s specified materials without authorization, resulting in the safety hazard posed by the recalled Aqua Dots toys. TIA is working closely with Spin Master and others involved to learn how this occurred, and how our new testing protocols can address the issue.

4.) What are the safety tips that every parent should know?

First and foremost, it is important to read the labels on toys. Many toys have a recommended age on the package, and parents and caregivers should make sure that children are playing with age-appropriate toys. Appropriate adult supervision is also critical and helps to ensure that children are safe at play. It is always important to keep small parts away from young children. For families with very young children as well as older children, it is critical to keep the older children’s toys away from the younger ones. With my own kids, I’ve found that it helps to enlist the help of the older children in this effort – by storing their toys away from their younger sibling and helping you monitor the younger one’s play. Big kids will love the responsibility and the chance to call some toys all their own.

5.) What do you like most about working with toy companies, and how do you see your role?

I like that this is a competitive, creative industry – but all of that competitiveness is set aside when it comes to working on children’s safety. It is the one area where there is no competition, just cooperation for the common mission of ensuring kids are safe.
My core focus is overseeing our Toy Safety Assurance Program. We help develop the highest U.S. safety standards which are widely emulated around the world. We also educate the industry on what the standards are and how to comply, and we initiate improvements in the process to address emerging issues and concerns. In addition, we partner with other organizations to help educate parents and caregivers on safe play, providing information online and with printed materials.

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