The Texas Department of State Health Services' (DSHS) Hazardous Products program is assigned the responsibility to ensure that consumer products, including those used by children, are sufficiently manufactured, packaged and labeled to protect the public health and safety. The Texas Department of State Health Services' Hazardous Products program is the state designated program to work directly with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) [Federal Hazardous Substance Act - 16 CFR 1500 -1512]. Should you have general questions or concerns about Toy Safety and/or Child Product Safety, please contact DSHS Hazardous Products program at (512) 834-6788 ext. 3600 or phone the CPSC at 1-800-638-2772.
Parents, guardians and child care providers should select a toy or article that is appropriate for that child's age. Specifically, attention should be given to toys and articles intended for use by children under 3 years of age that could present a choking, aspiration (the taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current), or ingestion hazard (the ingestion of small parts due to one of its components becoming detached or broken off during normal or reasonable foreseeable use as determined by a small parts cylinder). Toys and consumer products can pose the following hazards:
Please see the Safety Suggestions For Buying Toys for Children before buying a gift for a child.
DSHS and CPSC recommend that parents and guardians do not allow children under the age of eight to play with uninflated balloons without supervision. Children have suffocated on uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons. In addition, the Child Safety Protection Act of 1994 imposes specific labeling requirements on balloons manufactured after January 1, 1995.
DSHS and CPSC require toys and other articles intended for use by children under three years of age to meet certain minimal size requirements (as determined by small parts cylinder). In addition, the Child Safety Protection Act of 1994 imposes specific labeling requirements for marbles, small balls (less than 1.75 inches), and toys and games containing those items for children three years of age and older (bans certain balls intended for use by children younger than three years of age) and toys and games for children three through five years of age that contain small parts manufactured after January 1, 1995.
DSHS and CPSC require labeling for pacifiers to read as follows: "Warning - Do Not Tie Pacifier Around Child's Neck as it presents a Strangulation Danger." Pacifiers present a choking hazard if parts become detached or if it does not have at least two ventilation holes each being at least 0.20 inches in diameter.
The CPSC requires that rattles be large enough so that they cannot enter an infant's mouth and become lodged in the back of the throat, and be constructed so they will not separate into small pieces that can be swallowed or inhaled.
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Parents and other child care providers are strongly urged to pull off and throw away all plastic labels and decals from all products to which children may have access. Labels and decals present a choking hazard.
Present a choking hazard due to chewing, or placing broken crayons in the mouth. In addition, CPSC and DSHS have warned that some imported crayons have been found to contain lead, posing a serious health threat, especially to children who may nibble on or swallow them (see lead section).
Eyes and nose could become detached, posing a potential choking hazard to young children.
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Strings, Cords and Necklaces
Strings, cords and necklaces tied around the neck can strangle infants. Never tie pacifiers, necklaces, toys, or other items around a child's neck. Never leave cords of any kind near an infant.
Window covering cords are one of the products most frequently associated with strangulations of children under five years of age. Cords that have a loop on the end or have been joined by a knot or a pull should be separated.
Wall Decorations with Ribbons or Streamers
Keep wall decorations with ribbons or streamers away from cribs and well out of reach where children play to prevent entanglement and strangulation.
Remove all crib toys that are strung across a crib or playpen area when your child is beginning to push up on hands and knees or is five months of age, whichever occurs earliest.
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At least 3 million mini-hammocks have been recalled. These hammocks can twist around a child's neck and cause strangulation. Consumers should either return the hammock to the store or destroy them.
Toy Chest Lids
Avoid any toy chest or other container that has a hinged lid that can fall freely (lids can fall on child's head or neck).
Never leave a child unattended in a stroller because the child may slip into a leg opening, become entrapped by the head, and die.
Baby gates with V-shaped openings along the top and diamond shaped openings in the sides present an entrapment and strangulation hazard.
High Chairs should have both a waist belt and crotch strap to prevent babies from sliding downward in the high chair seat and strangling on the trays or waist straps.
Some playpens can collapse if they are not completely locked in place when being set up. If the playpen is not set up so that each top rail is securely locked in position, a baby can be caught by the neck and could strangle.
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Warning - Clothing strings, loose clothing, and stringed items placed around the neck can strangle a child if they become entangled on playground equipment.
Parents/guardians should check for playground cargo nets that could allow head entrapment and strangulation.
A potential head entrapment exists if there are openings on playground equipment that are between 3 1/2 inches and 9 inches, because they are large enough to permit a child's body to go through, but are too small to permit the head to go through. For specific requirements consult the CPSC Handbook for Public Playground Safety.
A strangulation hazard may exist if cornerposts project more than 1/16 inch above the end panel. Strangulations are also caused by failure of crib hardware. Caution should be urged when buying used cribs. A safe crib has no more than 2 3/8" between crib slats so a baby's body cannot fit through the slats, a firm snug-fitting mattress so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib, a mattress support that does not easily pull apart from the corner posts so a baby cannot get trapped between mattress and crib. Each year about 50 babies suffocate or strangle when they become trapped between broken crib parts or in cribs with older, unsafe designs. A broken crib can become a death trap for a baby!
A strangulation hazard exists if there is an opening of more than 3 1/2 inches between rails on the top bunk. Openings more than 3 1/2 inches wide can let a child's body pass through but may be small enough to trap a child's head. Another hazard exists if the mattress and guardrail has an opening of more than 3 1/2 inches, which again could allow the child's body to pass through the opening but trap the child's head between the mattress and guardrail of the bed.
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Bean Bag Chairs
Bean bag chairs with zippers that open freely have been recalled because children inhale or ingest the loose filling and suffocate. The zippers must be sealed to prevent the chairs from becoming unzipped.
Infant cushions resembling pillows or small bean bags about 24 inches long by 12 inches wide are banned hazardous products. CPSC issued the ban after receiving reports of 36 deaths due to suffocation. Consumers should immediately stop using these products!
To help prevent a suffocation death, place infant on back or side to sleep on a firm, flat crib mattress. Infant cushions are banned. A CPSC study found that an estimated 30 percent of the 6,000 babies who die of Sudden Death Syndrome (SIDS) each year may have suffocated to death when placed on top of comforters, sheepskins, and other soft products.
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Never leave infants on adult or youth beds. Place infants in a crib that meets federal and industry standards.
Keep plastic bags away from children. Never put children to sleep on or near plastic bags.
Never leave an infant in a playpen with side down. An infant may roll into space between mattress and loose mesh side, causing suffocation.
Children can become entrapped in household appliances and picnic coolers.
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Oils/solvents can be breathed into the lungs resulting in chemical pneumonia.
New hair dryers prevent electrocutions by having an immersion protection device installed. Older hair dryers do not provide any protection from electrocution in water. Therefore, use with caution!
Fires can start when flammable materials touch a nightlight.
Use a ground-fault circuit interrupter with electric heaters in a bathroom. Keep heaters away from flammable materials such as curtains, beds, upholstered furniture, etc.
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Prevent burns on hot metal playground equipment. Metal surfaces with a western exposure pose a burn hazard.
Curling Irons/Flat Irons
Caution - Curling irons and flat irons can burn. Keep all irons away from young children.
Child-resistant cigarette lighters protect young children from fire related dangers. Keep cigarette lighters away from young children. Keep multi- purpose lighters away from children because they are not required to be child resistant.
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Five Gallon Bucket
Never leave any bucket of water or other liquid unattended when small children are around. Drownings have occurred in as little as two inches of water.
Supporting Rings/Baby Bath Seats
To prevent drowning never leave a child unattended.
Spas/Hot Tubs/Whirlpool Bathtubs
A danger exists of hair being entrapped in the drain covers for spas, hot tubs, and whirlpool bathtubs. Filled outdoor spas and hot tubs should be kept covered when not in use.
Fenced Swimming Pools
Fences should be placed around swimming pools to prevent unattended infants/small children from entering the pool.
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Iron Containing Medicine/Prescription Drugs
Always use child-resistant closures and keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
Use childproof safety latches on bathroom cabinets, kitchen cabinets and garage storage areas, where chemicals are stored. Use child-resistant packaging to help prevent accidental poisonings with household chemicals.
Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning for children. In children, lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and can impair mental functioning. Blood-lead level as low as 10 μg/dl (micrograms per deciliter) have been associated with learning disabilities, growth impairment, permanent hearing and visual impairment and other damage to the brain and nervous system.
Imported items could contain lead or be coated with a lead-based paint. In addition to the lead containing crayons mentioned previously, miniature gourd armadillos as well as other items/articles imported from Mexico, have tested above the maximum allowable lead level of 0.06% by wt. of dried paint. Certain imported vinyl miniblinds have also tested positive for lead content.
Mercury filled necklaces have recently surfaced as a potential health hazard. These necklaces are being made in Mexico and are being purchased primarily in the border towns in Mexico by Texas citizens.
Glues from Taiwan have tested as high as 81% Toluene. A product containing 10% Toluene is classified as a Hazardous Substance. These products consist of Mexican, Chinese as well as other foreign made products. These products could pose significant health risks to consumers due to containing lead or lead-containing paint and to not containing proper cautionary labeling, use instructions and first aid directions.
Art/Craft material determined to present a chronic hazard are required to be labeled stating the hazard(s) associated with the product(s). These products include solvents, spray paints, silkscreen inks, and adhesives.
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Always take precautions and watch a child in a baby walker to prevent the child from tipping over or falling down stairs and being injured or killed.
Infant Carrier Seat
To prevent injuries and death with infant carrier seats, always use restraining straps and watch the child carefully, even when strapped in.
To prevent falls from shopping carts, use seatbelts to restrain the child in the cart and watch the child closely while shopping.
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In-line Roller Skates
To help prevent injuries with in-line roller skates, wear a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves.
Bicycle riders of all ages should use helmets. However, not all bicycle-related injuries and deaths can be addressed by the use of safety equipment alone. Rider actions and reactions - especially obeying traffic laws - play a major role in contributing to injury free bicycling enjoyment.
Reduce head injuries -- bicyclists, ATV riders, horseback riders, and skiers should wear helmets meeting ANSI/Bell standards and which are appropriate for each activity.
A fall zone, covered with a protective surfacing material such as double shredded bark mulch, wood chips, fine sand or fine gravel (different depth required for different materials and heights), is essential under and around equipment where a child might fall. Swings should have a fall zone of 6 feet from the outer edge of the support structure on each side. The fall zone in front and back of the swing should extend out a minimum of distance of twice the height of the swing as measured from the ground to the top of the swing support structure. For specific requirements consult the CPSC Handbook for Public Playground Safety.
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Movable Soccer Goals
Movable soccer goals can tip over and kill children who climb on them or jump up on the crossbar. Anchor goals securely to the ground.
BB guns can kill or severely injure a person. High velocity BB guns that have a muzzle velocity higher than 350 feet per second, can increase this risk.
Non-Reversing Garage Door
Homeowners with automatic garage door openers that do not automatically reverse should repair or replace them with new openers that do reverse to prevent young children from being trapped and killed under closing garage doors.
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Household batteries can cause chemical burns from leaking battery acid. Household batteries can overheat and rupture in several ways: 1) Recharging the wrong battery or using the wrong charger; 2) Mixing batteries; 3) Putting batteries in backwards (positive end where the negative end belongs and vice versa).
Caps for Toy Guns
Do not put ring caps, roll caps or strip caps in pockets because the cap may ignite and cause burn injuries.
Every year fireworks are involved in serious injuries to children, particularly when used by small children.
Safety Devices Help Prevent Deaths/Injuries
The following safety devices help prevent death and injuries. Smoke detectors; carbon monoxide detectors; bicycle helmets; ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs); a fence placed around swimming pools; safety latches for kitchen, bathroom, and workshop cabinets; anti scald devices; a spring loaded lid-support device for toy chests.