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Toy Safety -- United States, 1984

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that, in 1984, 588,700 children under 15 years of age were treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries (Table 2). Thirty-one toy-associated fatalities were reported. Some of the deaths were related more closely to the child's inability to deal with the toy than to problems with the toy, e.g., over one-third of the deaths involved children who choked on balloons, rode tricycles or other riding toys into pools, or were struck by motor vehicles while riding tricycles or other riding toys (Table 3).

In 1984, the majority of toy-related injuries were lacerations, contusions, and abrasions when the victims were hit by toys or fell off, over, or into them. Riding toys, such as tricycles, low-slung three-wheeled toys, rocking horses, and wagons, were associated with more injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms than any other type of toy. Other types frequently reported included disk-shaped flying toys, toy weapons (such as guns, bows and arrows, and slingshots), toy chests, and models (such as cars and airplanes). The next largest category of injuries involved the ingestion or aspiration of small toys or parts of toys or insertion of them into the nose or ears. Such toys included crayons, chalk, marbles, and small parts from toys.

Injuries involving riding toys, toy boxes, crayons or chalk, and blocks tended to occur among children under 5 years of age, while disk-shaped flying toys, toy weapons, models, and balls tended to be associated with injuries to older children.

Most toy-related injuries were fairly minor, about 2.5% of injuries required hospitalization, compared to an overall 4.2% of hospitalization for all injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in 1984. Reported by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C..

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: Although CPSC has mandatory safety standards for electric toys, bicycles, pacifers and infant rattles, toys with sharp points and edges, lead paint used on toys, and toys with small parts, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products meet these standards. The Toy Manufacturers of America, Inc. (TMA), has a voluntary product standard that establishes safety requirements and tests. In addition, many manufacturers and importers have extensive testing programs to assure compliance with the mandatory and voluntary standards.

With the renewed interest in skateboards, an estimated 13,500 children under 15 years of age were treated in hospital emergency rooms during 1984 for injuries associated with skateboards. Several factors may have contributed to these injuries: lack of protective equipment, poor board maintenance, poor riding surface, and not enough practice. Many young skateboarders have not developed the necessary balance and body control and thus do not react quickly enough to prevent injury. CPSC recommends the following:

  1. Be familiar with the riding surface. Check for holes, bumps, rocks, and any debris before riding. Skateboard parks and other areas set aside for skateboarding generally have smoother riding surfaces.

  2. Select skateboards with the knowledge that they are designed with varying characteristics for different types of riding (i.e., slalom, freestyle, or speed). Some boards are rated as to the weight of the intended user.

  3. Before using a skateboard, check for hazards, such as loose, broken, or cracked parts; sharp edges on metal boards; slippery top surface; and wheels with nicks and cracks.

  4. Use protective equipment to help absorb the impact of a fall or to prevent scrapes and scratches; such equipment includes helmets, specially designed padding for hips, knees, and elbows, wrist braces, and special skateboarding gloves. Padded jackets and shorts also are being made. Slip-resistant shoes may help the rider keep his/her footing on the skateboard.

  5. When riding a skateboard, never ride in the street; allow only one person per skateboard; never hitch a ride from a car or other vehicle; and learn how to fall to reduce chances of being seriously injured in case of an accident.* Guidelines for selecting toys and for preventing toy-associated

injuries have been published (1). In addition, CPSC has a toll-free telephone number ((800) 638-2772) that consumers and others can call to ask questions, request information, or file complaints.


  1. CDC. Toy safety--United States, 1983. MMWR 1984;33:697-8. *For additional information on skateboard safety, see CPSC's Fact Sheet No. 93: Skateboards.

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