“Safety First” When Choosing Holiday Toys

After reviewing over 200 incidents since June, 2011, a new Ministry of Health guide asks parents to keep injury prevention top of mind when shopping for gifts this season.

After reviewing over 200 incidents since June, 2011, a new Ministry of Health guide asks parents to keep injury prevention top of mind when shopping for gifts this season.

At this time of the year, when warm and fuzzy feelings about kids and toys abound, no one wants to be reminded of product recalls, accidents and injuries. But that’s exactly what Health Canada is doing with its just-released consumer message, “Toy Safety During the Holiday Season”.

Penned on behalf of Minister of Health Rona Ambrose by Eve Adams, Parlimentary Secretary and MP for Mississauga – Brampton South, Ontario, the timely message asks caregivers to keep injury prevention at top of mind when choosing kids’ gifts, especially toys, active-play products, and life-style accessories.


Popular preschool toy recalled in 2013

“The holidays are a time for family and fun, and it is often a time when many new toys come into the home. We are urging all parents to be mindful of toy safety while shopping this year to ensure a safe and fun holiday season,” says Adams.

While the message is perhaps mildly worded by some standards, Adams does offer parents one sobering statistic: Between June 2011 and early November 2013, Health Canada has received 185 incident reports related to toys, 10 reports related to children’s jewellery and 37 reports related to children’s sporting equipment — involving children under the age of 12. “Using unsafe toys – or using safe toys in unsafe ways – can put a child at risk for illness or injury,” she adds.


Toy Purchase Safety Guide

Health Canada logoTo avoid accidents and injuries, Eve Adams advises Canadian consumers to let these basic tips guide their toy purchases over the coming weeks:


  • Purchase age-appropriate toys, as toys for older children may contain small parts or other hazards that may make them unsafe for young children;
  • Read and follow the age labels, warnings, safety messages and assembly instructions that come with a toy;
  • Look for sturdy, well-made toys; (Editor’s note: Quality-made toys are the hallmark of independent specialty stores, where staff are knowledgeable and experienced in recommending the right toy for the right child.)
  • Look for toys that come with contact information for the manufacturer or importer;
  • Once the toys are at home, parents and caregivers should continue to be vigilant; check frequently for hazards like loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges. Any weak or damaged toys should be repaired or discarded.
  • All toy packaging, such as plastic wrap, foam, staples, ties and temporary plastic films should be removed and thrown away.
  • If consumers experience a health or safety incident with a toy they have in their home, they need to report it to the manufacturer or the retailer from which it was purchased. Parents can also use the forms found on Health Canada’s website to report incidents.

Finally, stay watchful for recall notices, which are usually issued jointly by Health Canada, and the product’s distributor, and follow their recommendations. Past recalls are archived on HC’s Recalls and Safety Alerts Database. And as a service for consumers, Toys & Games regularly posts any current recall notices, so check back here throughout the year.

Lynn Winston has been the editor of both print and online versions of Toys & Games Magazine since 1991. To contact her directly, please click here.
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