Buying safe toys takes some forethought

According to Washington's Better Business Bureau (BBB), the toy industry spends an estimated $300 million a year on safety testing and inspection of toys, and approximately 3 billion toys are sold in America each year.

So far this year, more than 20 million toys have been pulled off shelves as a result of more than 60 recalls. This is more than twice the number of alerts the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) issued last year. 

Perhaps even more concerning is that, according to the CPSC, less than 20 percent of recalled toys make it back to the manufacturer for proper disposal or repair.

 "The hot topic this holiday season for many parents and relatives of children is a trust issue - which brands and which toys can I trust?" said Robert Andrew, president and CEO of the local BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "The health and safety of children cannot be left to chance. There is plenty of reliable information available about toy recalls, and our BBB is encouraging everyone who will be giving or donating toys this year to take a few minutes and become a smart, safe toy shopper this season."

If you're holding a holiday shopping list that includes the names of a few good boys or girls, the local BBB offers the following advice to ensure that the toys you give are safe.

 Find out which toys have been recalled by visiting the CPSC Web site at Also, the Toy Industry Association provides information on toy safety as well as photos of recalled toys in an easy-to-use index on their Web site at

If you have purchased a recalled toy, the CPSC will negotiate a resolution with the toy manufacturer, which usually results in a refund or an exchange for a different toy.

If you purchased the toy from a retailer, try returning the item to them first to potentially save yourself the time it will take to deal directly with the toy manufacturer. Major toy outlets often have their own return policy for recalled toys.

Make sure the toy is age-appropriate. Toy safety isn't only about avoiding recalled products; you also need to make sure you're buying appropriate toys for the age of the child. Read and follow the age recommendation listed on the package or toy.

Consumers should be aware that the CPSC warns that at-home lead-level testing kits are inaccurate, so if you're worried about lead poisoning, first talk to your pediatrician about conducting a blood test.  As a second step, if you think your child has been hurt by a potentially faulty or toxic toy, call the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772.

Also, touch base with the following toy recall hotlines: Consumer Products Safety Commission: (800) 638-2772; Toy Industry Association: (888) 888- 4TOYS; Mattel: (800) 916-4498; Fisher-Price: (800) 991-2444; Toys R Us: (800) 869-7787. 

For advice to keep your loved ones safe and secure, go to

For more information about the services and products provided by the Washington BBB, a non-profit organization funded by BBB accredited businesses, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington.

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