FOX 8 Defenders: Avoid giving dangerous toys

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Toy sales ramp up as we approach the peak of holiday season. Before you make a toy purchase, the FOX 8 Defenders run down how you can avoid giving dangerous toys this season.

The non-profit trade group, The Toy Association stresses no matter where in the world a toy is made, if it's sold in the U.S., it's subject to more than 100 safety tests and standards, from the actual physical parts to its chemical makeup. Because of that, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls only a small percentage of toys each year.

Cynthia Albert of the Better Business Bureau explained there are some simple steps moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers can do before purchasing toys.

"If you're dealing with a big retail store, generally speaking, you're pretty safe because they're going to pull it. If they don't, the barcode will show up at the cashier. It'll beep off or you just can't buy it," Albert said.

A quick check of The Toy Association's website, www.playsafe.org lists 20 toys recalled this year. Some examples include a clay craft kit, sold at Babies R Us and Toys R Us. The website warning says "mold can be present in the clay, posing a risk of respiratory or other infections in individuals."

Slap bracelets that come with children's storybooks made the recall list because "the metal band can wear through the fabric covering of the slap bracelet," according to the warning. So far, it says there's been a handful of reports of cuts to hands and fingers.

Then there's a wind up musical toy that comes in the form of many different animals. The warning explains "the metal post and/or handle of the wind-up mechanism can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children." It says more than 580,000 were sold in the U.S. These are among several other recalled toys this year that you can learn more about through a quick search.

"It could really be very detrimental to the child. In many cases, it could be something that's not so obvious," Albert said.

In many cases, retailers will offer a replacement product or a refund, and that's detailed on The Toy Association website. Albert says where you really need to be cautious is shopping online.

"In many cases, sometimes these different websites will sell these items, and they're not safe at all," Albert explained.

If you're not dealing with a recognizable toy retailer online, she suggests always research it first, making sure the retailer has a physical address. That's one way to confirm it's legitimate. You can also research the business through the BBB.

The FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women also field consumer complaints at 1-877-670-6397 or you can fill out an online complaint form.

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