TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With many parents scrambling to find the perfect gifts to put under the tree this year, experts urge families to make sure toys are safe for little ones. Florida consumer advocates, lawmakers and doctors revealed what toys could be dangerous for children.
For the 36th year, the Florida Public Interest Research Group revealed the “Trouble in Toyland” annual report at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Some of the biggest concerns this year include smart toys and counterfeit items.
With more people shopping online, experts warn about counterfeit toys that can easily fall apart or contain dangerous chemicals.
“We see far too many children in our emergency rooms due to exposure from harmful chemicals found in counterfeit toys,” said Jimmy Baumgartner, the director of operations for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. “What should be a joyful time can turn into a nightmare and that’s why it is so critical.”
Experts urge parents to buy from reputable sites and sellers.
“Looking at the price, if it’s a lot cheaper, ask yourself why and try to see where the seller is coming from and what other things they’ve sold,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Abanses, medical director of the Steinbrenner Children’s Emergency Room at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. “They might not be quite as durable as some of the other toys, so we really worry about the counterfeit ones.”
Doctors also warned of toys with small magnets and batteries.
“Magnets and batteries are probably our other biggest issue because those are really dangerous. The batteries – the chemicals in it start to break down the esophagus and the stomach, and it can kind of create holes in there that can become very dangerous,” Dr. Abanses explained. “Magnets – when they’re swallowed, they can go inside and attach to the sides of the intestines and start making a hole through the intestines that will also require surgery.”
Dr. Abanses urged parents to buy helmets along with any bikes, scooters and hoverboards going under the tree.
Lawmakers also warned of electronic toys and apps. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., has introduced multiple bills in the House of Representatives to address kids safety online, including the Kids PRIVCY Act, which would expand privacy protections for children and teenagers and provide parents the tools they need to keep their children safe.
“There have been toys that have taken pictures of households, that have taken recordings. A lot of them gather that personal private information and parents need to know that they have the ability to turn off and on the privacy settings,” Castor said.