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The Dangers of Electrical Toys: What Parents Need to Know

Electrical toys made for children are built with care and caution. They are made to ensure that everything is working as it is supposed to and there are no safety hazards. That being said, the possibility of something going wrong always exists.

In general, the dangers associated with electrical toys are many. Several things can go wrong with electrical toys, from electric shocks through exposed wires to burns and a wide range of mechanical hazards. The problems escalate even more as the toy has moving parts, including sharp edges and points.

In 1973, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued safety recommendations for electric toys operated from 110-125 volt branch circuits under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. These safety standards set manufacturing, construction, and performance requirements to minimize the danger of harm from these items.

The legislation also included special requirements for sharp points, edges, and tiny parts. There are also industry toy voluntary standards to consider. While these rules and obligations have decreased the danger of injury from electric toys and other electrical goods for youngsters, adults must still be careful when purchasing toys, monitoring their usage at home, inspecting them regularly, and repairing, replacing, or discarding damaged toys.

Selecting a Toy 

If your child is too young to utilize an electrical toy or any other toy safely, do not buy one for them. Always verify the age recommendation on the shelf package. Keep in mind that this is only a suggested minimum age. If a plaything is labeled “Not Suitable for Children Under 8 Years Old,” it does not imply that every child who is eight years old can use it properly. The buyer must still consider the specific capabilities of each child.

Use of a Toy 

Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using any new toy for the first time. Read and ensure that the child understands the product’s directions, warning labels, and the risks of misuse. Keep copies of the instructions with or near the item so they can be found quickly.

Supervision 

Supervise the usage of any electrical toys. The amount of supervision required is a question for you to consider. Consider the child’s age and the toy’s nature while assessing how much attention is needed. Ensure that an electrical device’s plug fits properly into wall outlets or (if necessary) extension cord receptacles to avoid electrocution. Never allow prongs to be exposed when supervising children because this can result in electric shock. Children should always be taught to unplug electrical equipment after use by grasping the plug, not the cord.

Maintenance and Disposal

Many things can go wrong with electrical toys. The problems exaggerate with the gradual degradation of electrical toys. As a result, check up on them from time to time. Be aware of damaged components, frayed cords, and damage to enclosures of wiring and other protected components. Only an adult or an older competent child should change a light bulb on an electrical toy because it is critical that the replacement bulb is of correct wattage and that the plug is disconnected when changed. Any product that has been so severely damaged that no further repairs are possible should be disposed of immediately.

Regulations 

The CPSC’s regulations address electric toys’ major electrical, mechanical, and thermal hazards and other electrically operated children’s articles. All-electric toys must meet these provisions to be sold in the U.S. If you find or have a toy you think does not meet these requirements, do not buy them. Some of the most important provisions are listed below. 

Electrical

Electrical components must be completely enclosed. Even with common household tools like a screwdriver or pliers, these enclosures must be built so they cannot be opened. However, this does not apply to the shells of replaceable light bulbs.

  • Switches, motors, transformers, and other equipment must be installed firmly to avoid unintended movement and potential damage.
  • Elements that generate shock hazards must be supported and prevented from making connections.
  • Water-powered appliances must contain electrical components in a sealed chamber independent from the water reservoir (as with toy steam engines).
  • To avoid corrosion and electrical shock, items that need to be cleaned with a wet cloth must be built with watertight seals.
  • To protect from being electrocuted when inserting a toy into a wall outlet, electrical connections must have a finger/thumb grasping area and must include a safety screen.

Mechanical

Enclosures must be thick and sturdy enough to protect the electrical components from damage, even if the toy is subjected to severe usage.

To reduce the danger of contact, moving elements in the toy must be enclosed or guarded.

There must be an automatic pressure-relief valve that will release in the safest possible direction for pressurized enclosures like steam chambers.

Thermal

Maximum surface temperature requirements must not be exceeded. These temperatures are determined based on the surface’s accessibility, function, and material. For example, a knob or carrying handle that is out of a child’s reach may be allowed to exceed a lower temperature limit.

Spills must be avoided in container designs and production. When heated, no container should melt or deform. Toys must meet the CPSC’s toy safety standards, including stringent “use and abuse” testing for toys suited for various ages.

Labeling 

Certain precautionary information must be included on children’s electrical goods labels. The labeling is intended to assist purchasers in selecting the appropriate toy for their child’s age and warn them of potential dangers. Every such product must include a cautionary statement and a minimum age recommendation on its packaging. Children under eight are not permitted to use any item with a heating element.

Although maximum surface temperature limits exist for some hobby goods, they have been exempted from these rules. These products cannot be recommended for children under 12 and should be kept out of their reach.

Like everything a child does, parents need to be aware of the potential dangers of using electrical toys. But just because there are hazards does not mean electrical toys are unsafe. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you won’t have to face any of these problems. Still, you need to be careful should things go wrong. 

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