It is often a well-intentioned relative who chooses to ignore the age grading advice on the packaging in order to spoil the kids with the latest and greatest toy.
While the toy itself may be safe, it could be an accident waiting to happen for a younger child who hasn’t yet mastered the skills required to use it properly. To avoid injury and disappointment, now is the time to drop a subtle hint that the age grading information is there for safety as well as child development reasons.
The reality is that product related accidents can and do occur in Australia.
While consumer protection agencies work to remove unsafe products from the shelves, you can also take some simple steps to help ensure your kids are safe at play this holiday season.
Keep your family safe this Christmas by following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Safe Santa shopping checklist.
As a rule toddlers and infants put things in their mouths, which means choking is a constant lurking danger. When buying for kids up to three years of age, look for big and sturdy toys without removable parts or sharp edges. If the toy (or any part of it) fits into a pencil sharpening cylinder or an old film canister, it’s too small.
Magnets can be particularly nasty when swallowed because they can stick together inside the body. So keep toys with magnetic parts and connections away from young children.
When you think you have found a perfect gift, carefully check for any warning labels or extra safety information. Sometimes the item might not be safe for the child you are buying it for. Inflatable aquatic toys are a classic example where they are great fun for competent swimmers but can be dangerous for beginners or non-swimmers.
This year we’ve seen that even the most innocent looking products can be recalled or banned. For example ABC’s Lullaby Hoot plush toy and a Dora the Explorer badge were both recalled due to concerns about the battery compartments being accessible to children.
And it was only a year ago that a permanent ban was placed on certain baby dummies decorated with beads and crystals after these small parts were found to present a choking or ingestion hazard.
Whether you are buying for the kids or other members of the family, it has never been easier to find out about product recalls.
You can check the list of recalled products with the ACCC’s recalls app or visit www.recalls.gov.au. As another precaution, you can cross-check your shopping list with the list of banned products at www.productsafety.gov.au/bans.
In the lead-up to Christmas, the ACCC, along with state and territory regulators, will be in stores checking toys and other kids’ products to make sure they meet minimum mandatory safety requirements. You can keep tabs on the results of our surveillance activities and our product safety advice by following us on Twitter @ACCCProdSafety or ‘liking’ our ACCC Product Safety Facebook page – and remember to follow the steps in the checklist, available at www.productsafety.gov.au/safesanta.