W.A.T.C.H. Warns Parents Against Potential Hazards of Summer Toys
Just because children’s toys are marketed effectively and become huge fads doesn’t automatically mean they’re safe. Parents still need to be on the lookout for potential hazards. World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) is dedicated to helping parents spot the biggest perpetrators. At a press conference at Franciscan Children’s in Boston, MA, Joan E. Siff, President of W.A.T.C.H., and James A. Swartz, a trial attorney and Director of W.A.T.C.H., showcased ten “Summer Safety Traps” as examples of some of the biggest problems among summer toys and activities.
“Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that a toy or activity is safe simply because it is popular,” said Siff. Here are the items the group is hoping to draw attention to.
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs): There are about 650 deaths and 100,000 injuries reported every year involving ATVs. Hazards include turnovers, crashes, and falling off. Just being a passenger to parents riding ATVs poses as a major risk for children. W.A.T.C.H. recommends ensuring children wear helmets and protective clothing.
Yard Games: Slingshots and lawn darts have already been banned in many states due to the high risk of injury. However, just because they are banned doesn’t mean modified versions are off the market. Darts with weighted bottoms are for sale and could potentially lead to blunt force head injuries. Many varieties of water balloon slingshots are available and could cause trauma to eyes and choking hazards for young children.
Water Slides: Inflatable water slides made it onto the list – even the most popular, such as the traditional Slip ‘N Slide. Parents should be forewarned that they are meant for use only for children up to a certain weight limit. Teens could endure serious injuries, including paralysis. The slider’s speed drives the body into the neck and compresses the spinal cord.
Swimming pools: About fifty-four percent of fatal drownings to children under 5 years old occurred at home over the period of two years from 2015 to 2017. Siff and Swartz said, “One of our goals today is to be proactive and raise awareness about water safety including those hazards that may not be widely known but still may be linked to deaths each summer, such as pool covers filled with rainwater ‘safety’ ladders that are not safe, and children falling into pools while using riding toys.”
Toys with Small Parts: “Consumers may expect that there are sufficient checks and balances in place to prevent dangerous toys from reaching store shelves, but unfortunately this is not always the case,” said Swartz. The bits and piece that come with some of the most popular toys pose a choking hazard.
Other summer toys that could be hazardous, according to W.A.T.C.H., include low-riding wheeled toys used near roads or pools, backyard trampolines, and toys with blunt edges and projectiles. W.A.T.C.H. warned parents that new items are recalled every year and it’s up to them to stay abreast of toys deemed unsafe which may still be in their homes. The group recommended checking children’s toy boxes regularly to ensure there are no damaged or broken items inside, no choking hazards, and no items that are on the recall list. It also reminded caregivers of the basics, including ensuring children wear bicycle safety gear and not leaving them unattended.