HARTFORD — The holiday shopping season is getting started, and a new report can help consumers avoid toys that can be hazardous to children.
The day after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, but many toys still on store shelves can pose real risks to children.
Besides the usual cautions about small parts that can be swallowed, shoppers need to be careful about toys that connect to the Internet.
According to Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, an incident last February highlighted the risks of toys that collect and store data online.
"One of these toys got hacked and over 2 million customers' personal information was available online including recordings," she relates. "And this is actually a teddy bear, so presumably many of those customers were children."
U.S. PIRG's 32nd annual "Trouble in Toyland" report provides examples of toys now on sale that pose potential risks to children's safety and privacy.
Price is no guarantee of safety. Dangerous toys span the price range from $1 to hundreds of dollars.
Cook-Schultz points out that some expensive toys such as hover boards or toy electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries that can catch fire or explode.
"Most of those toys are no longer available," she states. "But we encourage parents to look for what's called a UL label on these batteries. That way, you can ensure they're not the lithium-ion batteries that have been causing problems."
On the lower end of the scale, Target recently recalled fidget spinners that were found to contain dangerously high levels of lead.
Cook-Schultz adds that consumers can get email updates on product recalls from the federal government by subscribing at www.recalls.gov.
"They can also check our website, toysafetytips.org, where we go through different things that parents can look out for and different toys that we're concerned about this year."
The full Trouble in Toyland report is available online at www.uspirg.org.