When I was a young tyke, seeing the words “Made in Japan” at holiday gift giving time meant someone got a bargain on a cheap toy. Now the Japanese are world renowned for producing high quality merchandise. Nowadays the bargains come from China. Unfortunately, seeing “Made in China” today means that your toy may be not only cheap, but dangerous! Obviously, any toy that may harm your child is no bargain, no matter what the price. Of course I wish you luck trying to find a toy today that was NOT made in China!
I’m going to address a matter that should be critical to moms, dads and Santas everywhere. How do you know if your toy is safe? Your first stop should be the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: . This is the official government agency in charge of tracking recalls on dangerous consumer products. In addition to tracking recalls, the CPSC also maintains a “most wanted list” which can be helpful in finding the most dangerous products on the market.
Another good resource for toy safety information can be the toy companies themselves. Most major toy companies maintain accurate and up to date listings of toys that may present a danger to kids. For example, Mattel offers safety and recall information for their products. While I consider relying on the manufacturer a bit like allowing the fox to guard the henhouse, thanks to the civil justice system in this country, most toy makers are fairly eager to let consumers know about potential safety problems. (Hurray for the trial lawyers!)
Additionally, you may want to explore the websites of major toy retailers. If you go to the main page at www.toysrus.com, you will find a clickable link regarding toy safety information. Through that link you will find a list of Toys R Us products which have been recalled.
Of course you moms, dads, and Santas will likely leave no stone unturned in your quest for toy safety information. But what should you do if something falls through the cracks? It is every parent’s nightmare to have their child injured or made sick by the very toys that are designed to entertain them. Unfortunately, it is happening in this country with ever increasing frequency.
If your child is injured by a recalled toy, you have legal rights. There are certain steps, however, that must be taken. First and foremost, if you find a recalled toy in your house, take it away immediately! If you feel that your child may have been injured by the toy, it is extremely important that you not throw the toy away. Rather, keep it in a ziplock bag, safely out of reach of the little ones. If the toy was recalled because of potential lead poisoning, I would suggest you bring your child to the doctor for a blood test. A blood test will be able to accurately determine whether your child has toxic levels of lead in their body. If your child choked or had some other toxic reaction, again, it is imperative that you preserve the toy as evidence. If you have any questions about product liability issues, you should contact your attorney to discuss the situation.
I hate to bring up such a grim subject about the holiday season, but as a father of two adorable young ones, I am keenly aware of this issue. Of course, by using common sense and by checking recall lists regularly, I am certain we shall all be able to enjoy a joyous and safe holiday season each and every year.
Stewart J. Guss is a licensed attorney practicing in the Houston area for over 10 years. He concentrates in the areas of personal injury, insurance law, consumer law, and small business issues. Mr. Guss maintains an office in the Cypress area and is proud to serve the residents of Cypress and throughout the Houston metro area. He is available for speaking engagements on a wide variety of legal topics. For further information or for a free consultation, he may be reached at 800-898-4877 or via email at [email protected].