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National groups team up to protect children from dangerous toys

photoPhoto Courtesy/U.S Customs and Border Protection CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar announce the team effort Nov. 29 in Elizabeth, N.J.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Customs and Border Protection, including officers at Dulles Airport, are teaming up to seize dangerous toys from entering the country this holiday season.

So far this year, CBP and CPSC personnel have seized more than 2 million dangerous toys and children’s products.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar are urging parents and other family members to be vigilant when making toy purchases.

“Proactive surveillance at the ports, strong toy standards, and educational efforts create a safer holiday toy shopping experience for consumers by keeping dangerous products off store shelves,” Tenenbaum said in a prepared statement. “Ultimately our goal is to protect our most vulnerable population – kid – and keep them safe this holiday season.”

“Together with CPSC, we have intercepted record amounts of unsafe products,” said Aguilar. “We are here to raise consumers’ awareness about the very real danger of unsafe products and urge consumers to be vigilant when buying toys and children’s products this holiday season.”

During the past four years, CPSC and CBP have stopped more than 8.5 million units of about 2,400 different toys and children’s products due to safety hazards or the failure to meet federal safety standards.

Since 2008, seizures have nearly doubled both in quantity and value for consumer products imported into the U.S. The coordination between CBP, CPSC and other agencies has resulted in successful targeting, joint operations and coordinated enforcement actions on dangerous products, including harmful children’s toys.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will facilitate about $2 trillion in legitimate trade this year while enforcing U.S. trade laws that protect the economy, the health and the safety of the American people. They accomplish this through close partnerships with the trade community, other government agencies and foreign governments. CBP works closely with CPSC to identify potentially unsafe shipments to check at ports of entry to ensure the safety of imported toys.

CBP has targeted more than 5,000 high-risk shipments for examination through the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) in Washington on behalf of CPSC, leading to the seizure of thousands of dangerous imported consumer products. In November, CTAC targeting lead to a large shipment of toys being seized at the area port of Jacksonville, Fla. In total, nearly 24,000 toys, valued at $220,000, were seized by CBP for CPSC lead violations.

In fiscal year 2012, CPSC recalled 38 toys, three of which involved a lead violation. Toy recalls have continued to decline since 2008. There were 172 recalls in fiscal 2008, 50 recalls in fiscal 2009, 46 toy recalls in fiscal 2010 and 34 recalls in 2011. Most toy recalls in 2012 were due to small parts, choking hazards or sharp points.

Toy-related death reports to CPSC involving children younger than 15 years old decreased to 13 in 2011 from 19 fatalities in 2010 and 17 reported in 2009. The majority of these toy-related fatalities were attributed to asphyxiation, choking or drowning. These included children choking on balloons, drowning after trying to retrieve a toy from a swimming pool or being found with tricycles in swimming pools.

The Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries Report released by CPSC Nov. 29 estimated 193,200 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries to children younger than 15 years of age occurred in 2011. Many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy. For children younger than 15 years old, non-motorized scooters continued to be the category of toys associated with the most injuries. Frequently, these injuries involved lacerations, contusions and abrasions to the child’s face and head.

Safety tips that consumers should keep in mind this holiday season:
•Balloons - Children can choke or suffocate on deflated or broken balloons. Keep deflated balloons away from children under the age of 8. Discard broken balloons immediately.
•Small balls and other toys with small parts - For children under the age of 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.
•Scooters and other riding toys - Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast, and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn properly at all times, and they should be sized to fit.
•Magnets – High powered magnet sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children under the age of 14. Building and play sets with small magnets should also be kept away from small children.
Once gifts are open:
•Immediately discard plastic wrapping or other toy packaging before they become dangerous play things.
•Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.
•Battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children. Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any mechanism to prevent overcharging.

Along with educating the public, CPSC is working with foreign and domestic toy manufacturers, importers and retailers to help them understand and comply with U.S. toy requirements.

In addition this year, CPSC joined international safety agencies in Canada and Mexico to promote toy safety education and awareness. CPSC, along with Health Canada and Mexico’s Procuraduria Federal del Consumidor (PROFECO), have released toy safety tips for choosing, purchasing and supervising the use of children’s toys.

CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually.

Under federal law, it is illegal to attempt to sell or resell a recalled product. To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, go online to http://www.SaferProducts.gov, call CPSC’s Hotline at 800- 638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing and speech impaired.


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