Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs Chris Bowen has warned families at Christmas to be conscious of toy safety to help ensure a safe and happy festive season.

The message comes as three dangerous children’s toys were recalled following a survey of toys purchased from 40 online traders by the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“Sadly toys can cause serious injury or death,” Mr Bowen said.

“We are fortunate that there have been very few deaths in Australia associated with toys, though I understand that there were 18 toy-related deaths last year in the United States.

“Packaging should indicate which toys are suitable for children under three but parents and carers will need to ensure that young children do not have access to older children’s toys.

“Tiny, powerful magnets that are frequently used to attach parts of children’s toys can be a serious safety hazard.

“If swallowed, the magnets can lock together through the walls of the intestine, causing perforations. Children have sustained stomach injuries from ingesting these magnets, and a child in the US died of injuries.

“Swinging on unstable basketball rings, for example, has led to serious injury and death of children in Australia – basketball rings and backboards are required to carry warnings.”

Parents and carers are also able to minimise risks by being alert to the following:

  • Avoid giving toys with small balls or parts to children under 3 years of age. Small parts can cause choking. 
  • Check that magnets in toys are not loose. This is particularly important in toys that are not new and may have deteriorated with use.
  • Check and adhere to any warnings.
  • Remove discarded plastic wrappings and uninflated or broken balloons as these can cause young children to suffocate.
  • Check whether toys are subject to a recall.

“Compliance activity, which increases in relation to toys at Christmas time, can lead to toys that have been sold being recalled,” Mr Bowen said.

“Australian safety recalls are listed on the ACCC recall website. 

“I encourage everyone to regularly check the website, especially at Christmas.” 

The website can be found at: www.recalls.gov.au

Fair trading offices across Australia, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, actively survey the marketplace and ensure that unsafe toys are removed. 

The results of the recent ACCC survey of online toy purchases can be seen at www.accc.gov.au