Irradiated Toys and Other Gifts You Shouldn’t Buy Kids

11 Jan, 2024

Toys you should avoid this holiday season.

Tis the gift-giving season, but before you run out and pick up a random toy for Sally or Bobby, it’s good to keep in mind just how dangerous those little gifts can be.  Toys can cause quite a bit of harm.  In 2017 alone, over 250,000 toy-related injuries were reported, with 13 toy-related deaths1

To give inspiration for what NOT to purchase the children in your life, let’s look at five of the most dangerous toys ever produced:

  • Hoverboards – A recent craze, and still on the market, these two-wheeled transportation devices are a favorite for kids and teens.  That doesn’t mean they are safe.  Hoverboards not only famously explode and catch on fire2, falling off the boards sent tens of thousands to the emergency room with fractures, contusions, and sprains3.
  • Mini Hammocks – In 1996, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission had manufacturers recall 3 million mini-hammocks.  What seemed like a relaxing way for children to spend an afternoon turned into a death trap due to a design flaw. These mini-hammocks lacked a stabilizing bar which led to the hammocks easily twisting around children trying to enter or exit, in some cases causing suffocation4.
  • Sky Dancers – By pulling a cord on the base, you launch a doll with foam wings spinning into the air, which descends slowly to the ground.  Sounds like fun, but once launched, Sky Dancers became uncontrollable.  The spinning pieces of plastic would fly at people’s faces, causing concussions, lacerations, broken teeth, temporary blindness, and in one case, a broken rib. The recall only took six years5.
  • Lawn Darts – Nothing says, “summer get together” like games played with minimal effort and a drink in your hand.  Current backyard staples include Horseshoes, Cornhole, and Bocce Balls, but wander into a summer party a few decades ago, and you might have played Lawn Darts.  Lawn Darts took the basis for horseshoes and combined it with oversized, weighted darts.  It is just as dangerous as it sounds.  The United States outright banned Lawn Darts in 1987 after an errant throw caused the death of a 7-year-old6.
  • Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab – The 1950s were a different time. Much different.  Enter the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab.  From the creator of the famous Erector set, this lab-in-a-box encouraged children to learn about atomic energy.  Complete with a Geiger counter and not one, not two, but three radioactive samples for experimentation.  Only on sale for a year, the kit sold less than 5000 units.  The lack of interest led the company to take the kit off the shelves7.  We may never know the true effects of those units sold. 
  • Bonus: Any Toy with Little Magnets – Companies never learn.  Despite a long list of recalled magnetic toys, every few years a new toy comes on the market that contains little magnets.  If ingested, magnets can cause severe injuries to stomachs, digestive tracts, and the intestines.  Death can result from the injuries incurred by magnets8

We all rush during the holiday season.  We all fall into the trap of too much to do, too little time.  But take time and make an informed decision when buying gifts for the children in your life.  Follow warning labels and age suggestions, check for recalls, and most of all, be smart.  If the toy looks like it could potentially cause harm, it probably will. 

Let’s all have a safe and fun holiday season.


References

[1] U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2018, November). Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries Calendar Year 2017. Retried December 4, 2018 from https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Toy_Report_2018.pdf?qIO1DVoYhV6lzYgcLa04K28yF28BOgdS

[2] Molina, B. (2017, November 15). Hoverboards recalled for fire and explosion risks – again. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/11/15/hoverboards-recalled-fire-and-explosion-risks-again/865643001/

[3] Welch, A. (2018, March 26). Thousands of kids injured by hoverboards in their first 2 years on the market. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hoverboard-injuries-26000-children-hurt-in-first-2-years-of-sale/

[4] CPSC and 10 Manufacturers Announce Recall of 3 Million Mini-Hammocks. (2017, May 26). Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/1996/cpsc-and-10-manufacturers-announce-recall-of-3-million-mini-hammocks

[5] Hazardous doll recalled. (2000, June 27). Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://money.cnn.com/2000/06/27/recalls/q_recall_toys/index.html

[6] Lawn darts. (2018, August 08). Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawn_darts

[7] Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Laboratory. (2018, October 21). Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_U-238_Atomic_Energy_Laboratory

[8] Dangers of Magnetic Toys. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/Dangers-of-Magnetic-Toys-and-Fake-Piercings.aspx

Photo Credit: The Original Advertisement[Photograph]. (2013, March 1). Wikicommons, Online In Webms (Author).

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