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Government investigating potentially dangerous toy

Nov 8, 2006 | www.komotv.com

A potentially dangerous toy is still on the market. But because of our report, the federal government is now investigating.

The toy, imported from China and Taiwan, is called a Yo-Yo Waterball. These colorful, fluid-filled balls are a big hit with the kids. They're attached to a bungee cord made from a rubbery material that is very stretchy.

As kids swing them around, the cord can get wrapped around their neck. Carolyn Daher said when her son Brayden rushed into the room, the cord was wrapped around his neck three times.

"He was grabbing at his neck and he was purple, almost blue," she says. "And his eyes were bloodshot and watering. I could barely get my fingers underneath the cord to pull it. And when you do that it pulls tighter and tighter and it was cutting his neck."

Somehow she was able to cut the cord - which her husband says isn't easy to do. "I think we are very lucky," Ghassan Daher tells me.

Brayden Daher is one of more than 400 kids across the country who have been hurt by Yo-Yo Balls. Thankfully, all were near misses.

For years, parents across the country have called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall or ban this toy.

In 2003, the CPSC concluded water-filled Yo-Yo Balls were "not a substantial product hazard." While it did not recall the toys, the Commission did advise parents to cut the cord.

Now, CPSC has launched a formal in-depth investigation into the Daher case.

"We are willing to explore all issues with Yo-Yo water balls," spokesman Scott Wolfson tells me. "This incident has really come to the forefront of our attention. We have taken your news report very seriously, and we want to get on this case as quickly as possible."

A CPSC investigator is scheduled to meet with the Daher family on Monday. I asked Carolyn Daher what she plans to tell him.

"It shouldn't have gone this far that we have this many children getting hurt," she replied. "I hope that they do their job and find out that this is a very dangerous toy that children can actually die from this product."

For my original report, I showed some Yo-Yo Balls to Dr. Brian Johnston, who heads the Department of Pediatrics at Harborview Medical Center. "It's clear that these are inherently dangerous," he told me.

Dr. Johnston says the Yo-Yo Ball presents a strangulation hazard because the cord is much longer than 6-inches, which means it can wrap around someone's neck.

"One of the scary things about this," he said, "is the material is sticky." So once it is wrapped around on top of itself, it's hard to unwind.

Various consumer groups have called for the toy to be removed from the marketplace, including Consumer Reports, The Consumer Federation of America, and Underwriters Laboratories.

Yo-Yo Balls are already banned in Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Australia. They are also banned in Illinois, where Lisa Lipin, a mom who almost lost her son to a Yo-Yo Ball, got the legislature to act.

Lipin has also convinced several big retailers, including Toys R Us, Walgreen's, Wal-Mart and eBay to stop selling them.


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