By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 23, 2023.
With the Christmas season here people are shopping and buying toys for their children and loved ones.
However, it is important to keep in mind safety when picking out toys, particularly for young toddlers.
Health Canada is reminding and warning people to keep an eye out for toys that can put kids and toddlers at risk.
Health Canada product safety officer Pierre Dendult said Wednesday that industry has be aware of requirements behind a product but consumers can’t always spot problems so to be aware of reputable suppliers.
“Some of the requirements a consumer can’t really spot by looking at it. Some of these things require testing to verify. So generally, the guidelines we provide is make sure that you’re purchasing from reputable known suppliers, that there’s contact information for the brand manufacturer if you do have any questions, or if there’s any problems with your product after you purchase it,” said Dendult.
Dendult described safety concerns families might run into when purchasing second-hand toys.
“There are some privacy issues with second-hand items. So those can be more problematic because some of those may be subject to recall, or of course, may have been damaged while another child or another family was using them.
“You always want to check them, like if you’re looking to check for things like broken parts, loose parts, damaged packaging, those are all signs that there could be something wrong with the product,” he said.
Dendult described what damage to look out for.
“When I talked about damage, I’m talking about, possibly loose parts coming off that could be a choking hazard. There may be sharp edges and things that are snapped, particularly plastic parts could be exposed . .. things like that.”
To learn more about toy safety consumers can visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/toy-safety.html.
Dendult said Health Canada is made aware of any toy recalls or incident reports.
“If we have a recall, our information pages will generally indicate the number of reports received like so for water beads, we may have received hundreds of reports in the States and tens of reports in Canada. Or if we’re dealing with button batteries, then we’ll kind of indicate we’ve seen six reports of that in Canada. And there it’ll give you the general hazards that are associated with each type of occurrence.”
Dendult said some toys are meant for adults or just older children so parents should keep them out of reach of younger kids – water beads, for example.
“We provide general guidance to parents to make sure the children are kept away from them because sometimes there are products intended for adults, but of course, children access them, or a toy intended for an older child.
“But a younger child then accesses it and then swallows it. And of course, the water beads are small at first, and then they can swell up to hundreds of times their normal size after they’re ingested,” said Dendult.
Dendult said Health Canada receives the hospital report data behind toys that have caused challenges and parents can access the details through https://www.ul.com/news/health-canada-proposes-changes-toys-regulations.
Dendult said Health Canada also provides outreach for parents and other helpful tools along with information.