New Dangers Lurk in Annual Holiday Toy Report

TAMPA -- When you buy toys for younger family members, watch out for things that can harm them, in the real world OR on line.

That's the message as the U.S. and Florida Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) release their 36th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

At a news conference called by Tampa Democrat congresswoman Kathy Castor, the head of the emergency room at St. Joseph's (Steinbrenner) Children's Hospital called attention to parts that could be a choking hazard. Another concern, batteries and magnets that could damage the esophagus, stomach or intestine if swallowed. Dr. Juan Carlos Abenses says parents need to play with the toy themselves, to check for small pieces or other hazards. He says to keep a cardboard insert from a foll of toilet paper handy. If a piece is smaller than the roll, a child could swallow it.

The report focuses on five areas of concern.

Knockoff toys, which are becoming more common in the marketplace thanks to online shopping.

Second-hand toys, which may be subject to recalls that buyers don't know about.

Choking hazards for very young children, as some toys aren't properly labeled.

Noisy toys that could damage children's hearing.

Smart toys, with cameras and recording devices built into toys, controlled by unsecure mobile apps and online accounts that store user data.

F-PIRG says toys have gotten safer over the past three decades, thanks in part to their annual reports.

Photo: Getty Images

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