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Song of Woe on Toys That Kill

blurb: The government is beaming crooner Tom Paxton into your home to warn you about dangerous toys.

No one is more serious about getting rid of dangerous products than the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which recently enlisted singer/songwriter Tom Paxton to guest star in a public awareness campaign on hazardous toys. CPSC says that nearly 50 million dangerous toys are still in use because the message to throw these toys into the trash isn't getting through to parents. Getting toys recalled by the manufacturer and off the store shelves is hard enough but getting them out of people's closets or toy chests is tougher, according to the federal agency.

CPSC is releasing a list of dangerous recalled products encompassing a total of nearly 50,000,000 toys in circulation that parents might already own, or have recently brought into their homes over the holidays. In addition, CPSC released a TV public service announcement featuring Tom Paxton who wrote the well-known children's song, "The Marvelous Toy." Mr. Paxton said, "As a parent and grandparent, I urge other parents to make sure they read the age label and get the right safe toy for the right age child."

Parents can get the complete list by going to the CPSC website, www.cpsc.gov, or calling toll free, 1-800-638-2772. Among the "Dangerous Dozen" are toys distributed in fast food restaurants and toy stores. They include:

"Pokemon Balls" (25 million) distributed in Burger King kids meals in November and December, 1999, may pose a suffocation risk and other hazards to children under 3 years of age. A 13-month-old girl and a 4- month-old boy reportedly suffocated when one-half of a Pokemon ball covered the nose and mouth. Take the "Pokemon Balls" (including the clip) away from children and discard the ball or return both halves to a Burger King restaurant for a free small order of french fries. 

"Toy Basketball Nets" (11 million) sold between 1976 and 1998 can strangle children on loops or openings in nets that come unhooked from the rim or have knots that slide. CPSC knows of an 18-month-old child who died after becoming entangled. Remove and throw away nets.

"Sky Dancers Flying Dolls" (8.9 million) sold from 1994 through 2000 can take off in unpredictable directions and hit and injure both children and adults. 170 reports of the dolls striking children and adults resulted in 150 reports of injuries, including eye injuries, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations.

Tips on identifying these toys and more hazardous toys are listed on the CPSC web site at www.cpsc.gov. 

The following consumer tips will help you weed through your existing toys and purchase appropriate toys in the future:

    1 - Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.

    2 - For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts which could pose a fatal choking hazard.

    3 - Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.

    4 - For all children under age 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.

    5 - Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age 8.

    6 - Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide.

    7 - Check instructions for clarity. They should be clear to you, and when appropriate, to the child.

    8 - Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys, which can cause suffocation, before they become deadly playthings.

Sources used to create this article include Consumer Product Safety Commission.