Magnetic Toys Sets Top CPSC List of Household HazardsAug 6, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP
Magnets, like those found in Magnetix Toy Sets are the number one hazard on the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s (CPSC) list of “Top Five Hidden Home Hazards.” The CPSC released the list last week in an attempt to educate the public about potential dangers at home. In addition to magnetic toy sets, the other hazards that made the CPSC list include recalled products, furniture tip-overs, windows and coverings, and pool and spas drains.
Since 2005, the CPSC has had reports of 86 injuries and 1 death related to magnetic toy sets. In all of the cases, children had swallowed magnets from toys sets like the popular Magnetix product. The magnetic toy sets are composed of small, colorful plastics rods with powerful micromagnets at each end. Often these magnets will come loose from the toy. While the magnets are too small to pose a choking hazard, they cause a much more dangerous – and hard to detect- injury. Because the magnets in the toy sets are so strong, if a child swallows more than one, they can attract to each other between the intestinal walls. This often causes intestinal blockages, bowel perforations and even death. Unfortunately, symptoms can mimic other gastrointestinal illnesses, so children may not receive treatment in a timely manner. The only way to remove the magnets is through surgery. Since 2005, the CPSC has recalled about 8 million magnetic toy sets.
Recalled products in general were the second household hazard on the CPSC list. While the CPSC said that the agency is very good at getting recalled products off of store shelves, it concedes that getting recalled items out of homes is not always easy. The CPSC recommends that consumers sign up for its free email service at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx which will inform them of CPSC recalls as they happen.
Furniture tip-overs and windows and coverings were the third and fourth hazards on the CPSC list. Furniture tip-overs result in 22 deaths and 3,000 injuries each year. Even ranges and TVs can fall onto young children. The CPSC recommends that families with children should anchor freestanding furniture to a wall or floor to keep it from tipping. Ranges and stoves should always be installed with anti-tip brackets.
Twelve children die each year when they become entangled in window drapery and blind cords, and 9 die as a result of falls from windows. The CPSC recommends cutting looped cords from blinds and installing a safety tassel at the end of the cord. Children’s beds, cribs or playpens should never be placed within the reach of a window blind. Windows should be outfitted with guards or stops to prevent children from falling out.
The fifth hazard on the CPSC list, pool and spa drains, can cause the most gruesome injuries. Broken drain covers are usually the cause of this hazard. Often, suction from the drain can be so powerful that it can hold a child under water. The body can become sealed against the drain, or hair can be entangled. In June, a six-year-old Minneapolis girl had a section of her intestinal track ripped out by a powerful pool drain. The CPSC recommends that pool and spa owners install a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) that detects when a drain is blocked and shuts off the pool pump. Prior to using a pool, it is important to check that drain covers are intact and in place.