Safety Hazard Warnings & Toy Safety

Updated November 21, 2016

When purchasing playthings for your children or loved ones, toy safety is often a main concern. Depending on the manufacturing dates and countries providing the toy, it may be constructed of harmful materials such as lead paint, or contain small parts that when broken off or ingested pose a choking hazard. Look for warning labels or small print notifications on toy packaging that warn consumers about the possible hazards in comparison to the age level of the toy recipient.

Warning Labels

The Child Protection Safety Act of 1994, enacted on the behalf of children, requires toy manufacturers to print a warning label on each toy packaging when the item is inappropriate for children under 8 years of age. The common warning symbol is a triangle with an exclamation mark in the centre and may be on a yellow label. Other warnings may be only in print on the packaging. Many toy packages displaying this warning label are on toys and games with small balls or pieces under 1 3/4 inches, marbles and latex balloons. The CPSA also requires the warning on many vending machines and bins.

Choking Hazards

Toys must be large enough that the item, or any piece of the item, cannot become lodged in the throat of the child. Each toy should be constructed of very durable plastic that when thrown or damaged, does not result in sharp, broken pieces. The toys should be washable and nonflammable for child use. When testing the toys in your home for the a choking hazard potential, use a small toilet paper roll. If the toy fits inside the paper tube, it is unsafe for children under the age of 3.

Moving and Electronic Toys

Toddlers often explore items with their mouths, which requires manufacturers to enforce the labelling centred around potential choking hazards. Electronic toys are mandated to have a very low surface temperature should not have any visible switches, cords or easy-open battery compartments. Playthings with strings, straps, long cords, or removable plastic fabric-type sheets may cause strangulation or suffocation. Each toy should be inspected periodically for any wear or loose wiring that may spark and cause fires or burns to children.

Projectile and Noise-Making Toys

Often older siblings may have toys that are age appropriate and safe for their use but not for younger siblings' or relatives'. Ensure that projectile toys with small parts such as missiles, darts or balls, be kept out of the reach of children under three. Propelled toys may also cause unintentional eye injury when used in an unsafe manner. Noise-makers or toys that make a specific or loud sound can produce frequencies that are harmful to small children and those sensitive to sound.

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