Toy-safety watchdogs list choking-hazard items

Family forum

November 19, 1991|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Evening Sun Staff

AS PRIME toy-buying time approaches, the folks who keep an eye on toys for safety's sake are issuing their lists of toys to stay away from. They are also advising shoppers to look carefully at toys and not assume that a toy is safe just because it's on a store shelf.

Yesterday, the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, a non-profit consumer and environmental organization, issued its list of toys deemed "dangerous" because they pose choking hazards for young children.

Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is sued its annual warning about potentially harmful toys and how to avoid them. The CPSC does not list specific toys.

The PIRG list, issued nationally, includes a water balloon with its own pump, small cars and a puzzle with small pieces. Many of the toys listed are small and foreign made.

Some of the items are cited because they have no age label but seem attractive to children under 3, who are the most likely to choke on small parts.

In addition to the 20 toys it specified, the group advised parents that children can -- and do -- choke on marbles, small balls, uninflated balloons and bits of popped balloons, as well as many other items found around the home.

The toys listed were bought last week in stores around Baltimorand Washington, said Daniel Pontious, executive director of the Maryland group. PIRG researchers in 25 other states bought the same toys.

The organization focused on toys that posed choking hazards because choking remains the primary cause of toy-related deaths and injuries in children, he said.

Along with its list of unsafe toys, U.S. PIRG issued "Trouble in Toyland," its annual report on unsafe toys, which includes information on toy-related deaths, other toy hazards and recommendations for ensuring safer toys. That report is available for $6 from Mary PIRG, 7338 Baltimore Ave., No. 108, College Park, Md. 20704. For the 1991 list of "dangerous toys," contact Mary PIRG at 332-0025.

In its warning, the CPSC suggests that parents take heed of age labels, when available. Do not buy toys for children to "grow into" because of their small parts and because "toys that are too advanced may frustrate and confuse a child." The commission also suggests that parents inspect children's toys regularly; if toys are broken and cannot be repaired, parents should throw

them out, the commission said.

Here is the 1991 PIRG list of dangerous toys:

Pull-string swimming hippo, pull-string swimming frog, pull-string swimming fish, all made in China by Masudaya; Busy Bumpkins Stroller by Uneeda Doll Co.; Jeep Jr. 4X4 by Power Wheels/Kransco Group of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Sesame Street Sewing Box by Sandberg of Chicago; Sesame Street Nursery Set by Tara Toy Corp. of Hauppauge, N.Y.

Also, Play Cars by Andresito of Primex, N.Y.; "Vanilla Kitty" scented ice cream pets by Leader Toy Corp. of New York; Sembl-eez Take Apart Put-Together Toy, a car by Irwin Toy Limited of Toronto; Battery Operated Symphony Loco by Blue-Box of New York; Pull-A-Long Intelligence Wooden Play Bench (no manufacturer listed); SUPA IV 6WD friction-powered Formula Racer by Action Toys; a stroller, old-fashioned car and crib on wheels described as "bin toys with no packaging or labeling" made in Germany;

Also, Water Bomb with Water Pump, made in Taiwan (no manufacturer listed); Forest Families, ducks by May Cheong Toy Products Fty Ltd.; Toy Cowboy Hat by Benay Albee with a small closure ring that can be easily pulled off and swallowed; Farm Puzzle by Nashco Products of Scranton, Pa., with small pieces.

Family benefits

The first comprehensive look at the family benefits policies of large U.S. businesses has rated only four companies, all in the Northeast, in its top "family-friendly" category. The study, released recently by the Families and Work Institute, a New York-based research and planning organization, concluded that almost half the companies studied had taken only the first steps in developing a work-family policy, and another third had yet to begin. The study of the 188 biggest Fortune 1000 companies rated Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.; IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y.; Aetna Life & Casualty Co., Hartford, Conn.; and Corning Inc., Corning, N.Y., as the top family-friendly companies. The institute developed a "Family-Friendly Index" -- the first detailed, objective yardstick to measure a company's level of work-family benefits, which include child care, "flex time," family leaves, flexible benefits and wellness programs.

For Gulf veterans

A new Red Cross program is offering help to families affected by the Persian Gulf crisis. The Central Maryland Red Cross is offering up to $125 per eligible family for marital or crisis counseling and up to $80 per child for day-care expenses incurred because a family member was sent to the Gulf. For more information on these services, military personnel should contact Red Cross Emergency Services at 764-4627.

What grooms expect

The December/January issue of Modern Bride surveyed 500 grooms to find out what they expected of their future wives and marriage in general. About 40 percent of the grooms said they would like to improve their wife's self-esteem, 94 percent said they wanted their fiancee to take their last name and 44 percent said their career/job was their priority in the relationship.

Beat holiday blues

Separated, divorced and widowed people are invited to get a head start on beating the holiday blues when Dorothy Levesque speaks Sunday during the fourth Joannes Series lecture at Mercy High School. Levesque works in Rhode Island with people who are single again. She will speak at 2 p.m. A $4 donation is requested and refreshments will be served. Child care is available to those who request it by tomorrow. For more information and to register, phone Mercy High School at 433-8880, Ext. 23.

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