Unsafe toys that can injure children may still be on store shelves, but the government is cracking down. TODAY National Investigative Correspondent Jeff Rossen reports.
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The mad rush to grab the season's hottest toys has started, but authorities say it's not all child's play. From tricycles to infant rattles to action figures, authorities have recalled dozens of unsafe toys this year and blocked millions more from even getting to stores.
Click here for the CPSC list of recalled toys.
“We seize them at the ports. We don't let them into the country,” Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told us.
The commission released alarming new numbers Thursday, revealing that more than 193,000 children were injured while playing with toys last year and 13 kids were killed.
One of the major causes is high-powered magnets kids can’t resist. It was the reason 3-year-old Payton Bushnell suddenly got sick.Story: Rossen Reports: More kids getting hurt in bounce houses
“I really didn't think much of it until…she started to vomit,” Payton’s mother said. “And we just thought it was the typical stomach flu.”
It wasn't the flu. Payton had swallowed 37 little magnets called Buckyballs. They connected together inside her body, squeezing her intestines.
More Rossen Reports
The CPSC says Buckyballs are unsafe for children, yet they're still on the market.
“Why can't you just recall them and say, ‘you can't sell these anymore?’” we asked Tenebaum.
“The company was asked to recall them and the company refused,” she said.
Now the CPSC is taking Buckyballs to court. The company told us it'll fight the lawsuit: they say the product is marketed to adults and, when it's used properly, people don't get hurt.Story: Rossen Reports: Fruit on food labels — are you being misled?
But now the Feds are cracking down on dangerous toys before they even hit the stores. Armed with tough new laws, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and CPSC officials at the ports are inspecting toys right as the shipments arrive from overseas. Two million toys have been seized, including action figures, toy guns and mini-motorized cars, all with high levels of lead.
But officers only check a small percentage of toys. Officials say it comes down to parents. Sometimes the toys are fine and it's the kids using them wrong. In fact, the No. 1 cause of child injuries last year was kids falling off scooters, which are incredibly popular.
“They always have to wear helmets, right?” we asked.
“Absolutely… and you also need the knee pads and the elbow pads,” Tenenbaum said.
It's not always the toy design. You need the parent watching them.
“A safe toy plus supervision equals a happy holiday,” Tenenbaum said.
The toy industry says safety is a priority, and toy companies work with the government and experts to make sure their products are safe.
The best advice for avoiding a toy injury is to read warning labels before you buy presents and make sure the toys are age-appropriate. Also check to see what toys have been recalled so you can make sure you don't have them at home right now.
To read full statements from the Toy Industry Association and Maxfield and Oberton, click here.
To see the CPSC recalled toy list, click here.
Have an idea for a future edition of Rossen Reports? We want to hear from you! To send us your ideas, click here.
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