'Trouble in Toyland': Parents shopping guide to unsafe toys

As the holiday shopping season begins, an Illinois consumer watchdog group reminds adults to be careful when buying toys for the little ones in their lives.

Many toys carry unexpected dangers. Some have choking hazards, contain toxins or could be too loud, damaging a child's hearing.

"Toy safety has improved remarkable over the last three decades but hazards still exist," said Abe Scarr, the director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

For more than 30 years, the consumer advocacy group has issued its Trouble in Toyland report, highlighting harmful types of toys on the market

The group was joined by lawmakers and health experts who say their persistence in raising awareness about potential dangers to children has led to an overall decrease in injuries. But they say more needs to be done.

"Shame on us if we don't pay attention to what PIRG has to say," said Sen. Dick Durbin D-Illinois. The most important thing we want is safety for our children."

Some safety tips include using a toilet paper roll to measure a toy's size.

If it can fit inside, it's a choking hazard, especially for kids younger than three.

Magnets can cause serious injury if swallowed, possibly leading to blockage in the intestines.

"We get very anxious about this in the emergency department because we know potentially these kids are gonna be kids who need to go to the operating room and have an operation," said emergency room physician, Dr. Elizabeth Powell.

There's also a call for a more aggressive policy concerning toys that are recalled.

Experts say many of those toys can still be found on resale websites.

"Right now, there's no responsibility on manufacturers to do much more than release a press release the day of the recall," said Nancy Cowles of KIDs in danger.
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