28 November 2005

Parents, grandparents and relatives when shopping for children must consider safety aspects of their purchases, said Nationals Member for Lismore, Thomas George.

"When we think about Christmas, many of us think of kids and toys. It's a heart-warming experience watching our children opening their presents on Christmas morning. Sadly in some instances, the very same toys that bring joy to young children are capable of causing injury due to poor design or improper use," Mr George said.

"You don't have to be a qualified industrial designer to spot a potentially dangerous toy. Whilst it is not possible to identify every potential hazard presented by toys, some of the more obvious signs to look for include the following:

Small Parts - If shopping for young children, check for any small parts on the toy that may pose a choking hazard. Children up to the age of three tend to put everything in their mouth.

Stuffed Toys - Avoid toys with weak seams where the filling could be exposed. Polystyrene beads are particularly dangerous because the can be easily swallowed.

Sharp Edges and Points - Always check toys for sharp, serrated edges or sharp points that could cause cuts or puncture wounds.

Projectiles - Items which can be fired from toy guns etc. should have protective tips, but check that other items such as pencils cannot also be fired.

Pinch Points - Toys that have a folding mechanism such as a folding chair may contain pinch points which present a crushing hazard. On these types of products, check there are adequate locking devices to prevent the toy collapsing. Special safety catches are also important on items such as toy chests which could prevent the lid slamming down on a child.

Ventilation - When shopping for toys that enclose the head or body of a child, such as masks or playhouses, ensure the item has adequate ventilation, particularly if it is likely to be used outdoors in hot weather. Inadequate ventilation could cause a child to dehydrate or even suffocate.

Toxicity - Another area to consider is that of toxicity. Whilst it may not be possible to determine whether a product is toxic, labelling provides a guide when buying items such as paints, crayons or other toys containing gels and liquids.

Noise Producing Toys - When buying toy cars etc. be wary of excessive noise levels which could damage hearing.

Strangulation Hazards - Be wary when buying toys intended to be attached to a string, such as those used in cots and playpens.

Flotation Toys - These are not designed for life saving and are not substitute for competent supervision.

Age of Child - When purchasing toys it is important to consider the age of the child for whom you are buying. Most toys now carry age labelling and this is usually a reliable guide of the age group the toy will suit. However, recognise your own judgement of the level of skill and development of your child is invaluable in making product choices.

"Once the toys are purchased, the job doesn't end there. It is important to realise children will often need supervision. This is particularly important when younger children have access to more sophisticated toys used by their older brothers and sisters and certainly in the case of toys used in and around water," said Mr George.

Mr George said, "By following the warning labels notices on toys and checking your children's gifts, you can help make certain that children enjoy a safe and happy Christmas".

Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 1800 336 166 or 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403  Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Authorised by Thomas George MP. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.