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Consumer Group Warns of Dangerous Toys

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – If they haven't already, shoppers will soon flood the stores to begin filling their favorite child's toy wish list. New York's Public Interest Research Group wants to help make sure that list is a safe one.

"Latex ballons remain the leading toy killer," said NYPIRG's Josh Turner as he demonstrated how even an innocent balloon can lead to tragedy. "Since 1990, 64 children have choked to death."

Turner explained how, when broken, those tempting colorful balloons become limp rubber scraps that can easily get lodged in a child's throat, causing death.

NYPIRG's "Trouble in Toyland" report this year does have some good news. According to the statewide study, there are fewer dangerous toys on store shelves. And mandatory choke hazard warnings are being prominently displayed.

But Turner says good judgement is always needed, especially when parents must take on some popular child heroes.

"The labeling of the toy does not take into consideration the developmental abilities of the child," Turner said, "nor does it take into consideration the mass media and marketing surrounding popular children's characters, such as Pokemon."

Parents may also need to say no to some other traditional favorites, like Legos for smaller children. The popular new toy, the "Water Yo-Yo" is one to watch out for too, with it's stretchy bungy string that has strangled many children. Siobhan McColloum has two toddlers at home. And she knows how hard it can be to say no to that must have toy.

"An upset child is worth more than paying the ultimate price, which is to lose your child over something silly like letting them play with something that is unsafe," Sioban said.

A complete list of potentially unsafe toys is available at www.nypirg.com. But experts advise, if a toy looks unsafe, don't buy it.