Madigan releases guide of recalled toys

By Gregory Karp
Posted Nov. 22, 2010 at 12:16 p.m.

Superhero flashlights, Shrek drinking glasses from McDonald’s, a Fisher-Price inflatable ball and a boys’ Santa suit from Macy’s all seem innocent enough. But they were among the 147 children products — some 44 million individual items — recalled so far this year in the United States for being potentially dangerous.

Because the number of recalls has become overwhelming for parents to track — about double the number from last year — the Illinois Attorney General’s office has for the fourth year compiled an annual “Play it Safe” guide of dangerous toys, jewelry, baby gear and clothing. Items in the guide have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2010.

Knowing about recalled toys is especially important during the holiday season, Madigan said.

While recalled toys have been removed from store shelves, the slumping economy means more parents might be looking for second-hand gifts for children, whether at garages sales or online sites, such as eBay and Craigslist, she said.

And as families gather to visit for the holidays, children will be exposed to toys outside their home that might have been recalled for being dangerous. “Make sure these items are not in your house,” Madigan said. “A lot of the stuff is very popular.”

Madigan suggested steps to take. “These are three simple things you can do as a parent, grandparent or somebody who is working with young children to keep them safe,” she said.

– Go to and sign up for e-mail alerts to receive notice of product recalls. You can choose to sign up for only recalls involving infant and child products. The safety commission also makes available an Android smartphone app and a mobile website to check for recalls while on the go.

– After buying a new item, such as baby furniture, fill out the product registration card so you will be automatically notified if the item is recalled. Your information is not to be used for marketing purposes, Madigan said. You can submit the contact information online as well.

– Thumb through the 2010 edition of the “Play it Safe” guide to view recalled items. The guide, complete with photos and descriptions of products along with reasons why they were recalled, is available for free. Get it online at, or request a printed copy by mail by calling 888-414-7678.

Additionally, parents should look closely at warnings on boxes to make sure the toy is age-appropriate for the child, Madigan said. “You can’t just look to see, ‘Is this the character my child wants?’ Is the item itself appropriate for their use?” One common guide to check for choking hazards is to see if small items or parts can fit through a toilet-paper roll. If so, it might be too small for a young child who routinely puts things in their mouth, she said.

Nancy Cowles, executive director of the nonprofit group Kids In Danger, said new government regulations are finally in place for safety testing of children’s products. “We’re getting to the point now where most parents thought we already were,” she said.

Cowles offered additional advice. If your children are rough on toys, you might test the toy by vigorously handling it to make sure it doesn’t break and become a hazard.

And be wary of toys with button batteries. Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago says some 3,500 people a year swallow these small disc batteries, often used in wristwatches and cameras. Besides the choking hazard of batteries getting stuck in the throat and esophagus of young children, they also create an electrical current and a chemical burn. Burns happen even if the battery is not leaking or damaged, according to the Children’s Memorial website.

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One comment:

  1. AZChildproofers Nov. 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you for posting this information. More people need to become aware of the dangers out there that harm innocent children. I own a childproofing company in Arizona called Arizona Childproofers, and I can only do so much. Great job in getting the word out about these recalls.