Parents should be wary of some toys powered by lithium-ion batteries that can catch fire or explode
By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
for The Post Publications
HARRISBURG PA – As the holiday shopping season gets started, a new report from the Pennsylvania chapter of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group is intended to help consumers avoid toys that can be hazardous to children.
The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and buyers may see several toys on store shelves that pose risks to children. Besides the usual cautions about small parts that can be swallowed, shoppers should be wary of toys that connect to the Internet, according to USPIRG toxics director Kara Cook-Schultz.
The organization’s 32nd annual “Trouble in Toyland” report provides examples of toys now on sale that pose potential risks to children’s safety and privacy.
An incident last February highlighted the risks of toys that collect and store data online, Cook-Schultz said. “One of these toys got hacked, and over 2 million customers’ personal information was available online, including recordings.” The toy “is actually a teddy bear, so presumably many of those customers were children,” she added.
Price is no guarantee of safety. Dangerous toys span the price range from $1 to hundreds of dollars.
Some expensive toys, such as hover boards or toy electric cars, are powered by lithium-ion batteries that can catch fire or explode. “Most of those toys are no longer available,” Cook-Schultz acknowledged, “but we encourage parents to look for what’s called a UL label on these batteries. That way, you can ensure they’re not the lithium-ion batteries” that have caused problems.
On the lower end of the scale, Target recently recalled fidget spinners that were found to contain dangerously high levels of lead.
Consumers can get periodic updates on product recalls from the federal government by e-mail subscription, here. Also, USPIRG’s “Toy Safety Tips” website reports on what Cook-Schultz said are “different things that parents can look out for, and different toys that we’re concerned about this year.”
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