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Gerry McGill
Gerry McGill
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New Device to Check Toy Safety: Cell Phones

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Perhaps just in time for the holiday season, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group gave a gift to families. Along with releasing their annual report the USPI Research Group also launched www.toysafety.mobi. The consumer safety site was created with shoppers in mind. While shoppers are walking the aisles of their favorite stores – and especially toy stores – they can access the “.mobi” site to check on toy safety. This means that toy consumers can rely on USPI Research Group for more than its annual report (which has been published during each of the last 24 years, and reported that there have been almost four hundred toy-related deaths since 1990).They can now rely on up-to-date and cell-phone accessible information about toy safety and recalls. The St. Petersburg Times reports that parents interviewed about whether they would use the site are supportive and have been positive about its arrival.

This issue of toy safety isn’t new – in 2008 Congress took a closer look at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, pushing for more toy inspections. The call for more inspections followed a good deal of publicity about the recall of dangerous toys. Most of those posed choking or asphyxiation hazards, while others had unhealthy levels of lead, or could cause hearing loss. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission focused primarily on the safety of baby cribs, recalling over 2.1 million. While this was a big step forward, the new ability to check toys online is another step in the right direction. Many consumers of cribs, high-chairs, car seats, and other large items take the time to check for recalls and warnings before buying. It is generally recommended that consumers check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, and the list of children’s products that is kept there.

But toys aren’t the kind of item that consumers usually check out before hand. Aside from checking the age on the side of the box, most consumers don’t give much thought to whether a toy is safe – so long as it looks safe. With the advent of the new website, which can be easily reached and viewed using a cell phone – consumers of toys would do well to get in the habit of checking for safety before they buy. If we all take the time to do this, it will create a demand for more information that simply cannot go unanswered. That, in turn, will hopefully decrease the number of accidents and deaths that are attributed to tainted toys.