With summer in full swing, World Against Toys Causing Harm, or WATCH, has come out with a new safety report that names the water balloon slingshot the most hazardous toy.
WATCH’s summer 2018 list of “10 Potential Safety Concerns” points out products that pose a potential risk including: lawn darts; water slides; low-riding wheeled toys; backyard in-ground and above-ground pools; toys with small parts; shallow pools; water slides; water guns; bounce houses and trampolines; and all-terrain vehicles.
The water balloon slingshot can cause eye injuries and be a choking hazard for young children, WATCH reports. The group’s representative said the slingshot can shoot water balloons up to 150 feet with great force and leftover balloon parts present a choking risk.
Between 2014-2016, five children died from balloons and balloon strings.
WATCH president, Joan Stiff said, “We want to make toys safer and remove dangerous toys from the market and make parents aware of potential hazards before they happen.”
Stiff recommends that parents and guardians become familiar with the types of toys that have caused injuries in the past to ensure informed decisions for future purchases.
Toy Association vice president of standards and government affairs, Joan Lawrence criticized how the WATCH list calls products on the list toys but includes products that are not toys like in-ground pools and ATVs.
“They had this press release about summer hazards and some of them are commons ones and some are uncommon ones. The list they had attached had a different tone,” said Lawrence. “It’s interesting they don’t call them dangerous toys, they call them summer traps.”
Lawrence added that the Toy Association’s goal is to ensure safe play. The basics include matching the age recommendations on toys to the child and adult supervision during play. She also said that all toys in the U.S. are legally required to comply with more than 100 different standards and tasks for safety.
WATCH reported that about 2.5 million children are treated for injury-related accidents during the summer. WATCH’s 2017 summer list named the fidget spinner as the most unsafe toy.
The Boston-based organization tries to create awareness for parents and caregivers that can prevent injuries and deaths related to these products. Consumers can check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC, is a website that regularly updates products that have been recalled.
Here is WATCH’s list and reasons it cites for the product’s inclusion:
1. Water balloon slingshot. WATCH said it can cause serious eye injuries as the water balloon projectiles can move at high velocity. Balloons, in general, should not be near young children as they are a choking hazard.
2. Lawn darts: Even though pointed lawn darts were banned for sale in the U.S. in 1988, these modified darts can potentially lead to blunt impact injuries.
3. Low riding wheeled toys (big wheels and other plastic tricycles): The Original Big Wheels including a warning that said “never use near motor vehicles,” “never use near streets, swimming pools, hills, steps or sloped driveways” and “always wear a properly fitted helmet.” The low-riding toys make it difficult for drivers to see them from roads or driveways.
4. Background in-ground and above-ground pools: Swimming pools are highlighting a new safety awareness: water. Multiple barriers are encouraged to be put up near the pools.
5. All-terrain vehicles: Children should not operate ATVs and families should not allow them to ride as a passenger. This product is prone to overturning and collision. Injuries include head, bone and other impact injuries
6. Toys with small parts: The biggest risk here is choking by younger children. Parents and caregivers should check toys for any breakable or slender parts that may be pegged as a choking hazard.
7. Shallow water: baby pools, garden buckets and pool covers: Babies should not be left alone in these pools or any container with liquid. This potential hazard may lead to drowning.
8. Backyard water slides: Water slides may result in neck, spine, head injuries if used improperly by adults and teens. This product is designed to be used by children only.
9. High-powered water guns and guns with projectile ammunition: These may pose a serious threat to the eyes and cause contusions and even blindness. This product utilizes powerful force as foams darts out and water streams out.
10. Bounce houses and backyard trampolines; Most people have come into contact with ones of these products, but the potential hazard of injuries may make people shy away. This product has a false sense of security and may cause injuries like fractures, cervical spine injuries, as well as paralysis.