Avoid Buying Defective Toys and Hobby Equipment This Holiday

December 3rd, 2018 by Attorney John Colvin

Avoid Buying Defective Toys and Hobby Equipment This Holiday

It’s easy for kids–and parents–to get excited about all the new toys and recreational items during the holiday season. Who can blame them? Not only are advertisements all over the television, but they’re on the Internet and in flyers, too. In fact, it’s tough to miss the latest and greatest treasures being marketed this year.

Of course, moms, dads, grandparents, and other purchasers need to be cautious. Sure, children are easily swayed, but adults should carefully investigate any toys or equipment before hitting “buy” or inserting a debit card into a chip reader. After all, plenty of merchandise is a “miss,” not a “hit.”

Case in point: Tennessee has its fair share of young, avid hunters and sportspeople who would love to get updated equipment for the holidays. However, not all sporting equipment, such as crossbows and rifles, offer high-quality outcomes.

Just last December, Ravin Crossbows issued a major recall due to defects in their crossbow nocks. The defects cause the bow to discharge while the user is reloading an arrow. Dozens of malfunctions were reported, along with several injuries.

Barnett Outdoors has recalled six models of crossbows containing a malfunctioning sensor that can cause the bow to fire unexpectedly. Barnett Outdoors’ crossbows have also posed a threat to hunters because they don’t include a safety ledge that protects users’ thumbs when firing.

Recalls haven’t been limited just to crossbows. recalls have also been issued for Remington rifles sold between 2006 and 2014. What these stories show is that people need to take more than a cursory look at the presents they purchase. Otherwise, they could wind up giving away a harmful trinket rather than a safe toy, game, recreational or educational gift.

Could a Potential Holiday Gift Be Defective?

Obviously, one of the easiest ways to discover whether a toy is problematic is to check its ratings. Read through the online reviews and look for keywords like “defects,” “defective,” “malfunctioning,” or “dangerous.” At the same time, remember that reviewers are not necessarily giving objective opinions. Many items can be harmful if misused. But if you read plenty of reviews that talk about kids choking on a certain item, or cutting themselves on a particular toy, you may want to steer clear of buying that object.

Another way to uncover defective toys is to conduct online research on the hottest items for this season based on your child’s age group. Then, ask yourself the following questions about anything you intend to buy:

  • Are there many moving parts that could get dislodged from the item and end up as choking hazards?
  • Does the item have any sharp edges? If so, is my child old enough to understand this and use the toy with good judgment?
  • Does the toy require adult supervision? And am I or someone else who is over 18 always going to be available?
  • Could the toy overheat or cause a fire? Many people were injured in hoverboard accidents prior to mid-2016 when the boards’ batteries became very hot, causing physical injuries and property damage. One CBS News story from March 2018 noted that around 26,000 youngsters between 2015 and 2018 needed emergency attention after their hoverboards malfunctioned.
  • Is the object non-toxic or made of non-toxic materials? Are there any pieces or parts that include potentially toxic substances or chemicals?
  • Does the toy have cords or long strings?

You may even want to check out articles like this one from Good Housekeeping in November 2017 that talks about questionable toys from last year’s holiday season. To be sure, these toys are not necessarily defective or recalled. They merely have questionable parts or purposes. However, the list does showcase some valid concerns, such as some toys that could become choking hazards or others which might encourage “off-label” roughhousing.

Staying Up to Date on Product Recalls

Want more ways to feel good about what you give your kids? In between parties, feasting, and socializing, you may want to stop by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls site as an added buffer against putting money toward a  questionable product purchase. The site features information on the latest items that have been recalled, such as a little girls’ outfit featuring a necklace containing lead paint, or kids’ water bottles that have small parts that could impede breathing if swallowed.

Does all this caution take the fun out of shopping for the season? Not at all. There are tons of great toys and equipment that you can find to wrap and give. Your objective isn’t to put out the spark of the holidays, but to bring safety into the mix. Just as you wouldn’t serve a boiling hot cup of cocoa to a three-year-old, you shouldn’t give the same child a present that could lead to problems. Focus on the joys and avoid headaches by being diligent about what you buy, especially for children.

Have you or a loved one experienced a personal injury involving a toy or other recreational item? Please contact John R. Colvin for a free consultation to discuss your situation.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama