Warning of unsafe toys bought online ahead of ‘Black Friday’

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Shoppers are being told to watch out for unsafe toys being sold by third-party online sellers as special deals for Black Friday and Christmas.

With the Covid pandemic and current Government restrictions affecting the whole country, many people will be relying on online shopping in the coming days and weeks.

Both Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards teams are urging consumers to be vigilant when buying toys on the internet to make sure they’re safe and suitable for children.

The authorities are backing the Don’t Toy With Children’s Safety campaign, which has been launched by The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA).

The BTHA conducted a test on 100 toys sourced from online marketplaces Amazon, eBay and AliExpress, which found that 60 per cent had safety failures and 86 per cent were illegal to sell in the UK. 

This is an increase on the previous year’s testing of online toys which reported 22 per cent as unsafe.

Among the breaches are toys with small parts that are a choking hazard to under-threes, as well as small button batteries which could be easily removed by young children and would cause serious complications if swallowed.

The BTHA’s campaign calls for a review of the current law to ensure that online marketplaces are accountable for the products bought through their sites. At present, these websites are not responsible for checking the safety of a toy in the same way that reputable toymakers, importers and shops based in the UK are.

Always bear in mind these safety tips when buying for children.

  • Look for the CE symbol: This means the manufacturer has assessed the toy for safety. Find the symbol on the label or box.
  • Check the item is aimed at children: Festive novelties can look like toys.
  • Reputation matters: Check the suppliers who have a good reputation for safe and reliable toys. They’ll have good safety standards and refund policies.
  • Button-battery safety: Christmas toys may have button batteries, which can prove lethal if ingested. Check they are screwed in safely before giving to a child.
  • Check age restrictions: Toys must be clearly marked with age restrictions, which assess risks such as choking hazards. Always follow the age recommendations.
  • Consider special needs: Remember that children with special needs might be more vulnerable, and make sure to shop accordingly.
  • Choking hazards: Avoid toys with small parts or loose fabric
  • Loose parts: Ribbons on toys and costumes can be dangerous.
  • Inspect toy boxes: Wear and tear can make a toy unsafe. Check your children’s toys and get them repaired if necessary.
  • Supervise when you need to: Some toys need an adult on hand during playtime. Read all the instructions so you can keep things under control.
  • Tidy up: Boxes, plastic bags and wire can be a hazard. Clear away all packaging once everything’s unwrapped.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre at Nottingham City Council, said: “We know that people may be tempted by the thought of a bargain, especially with Black Friday and Christmas coming up. But some online items, including toys, can be of very poor quality and even dangerous.

“As well as being of substandard quality, they are often not subject to important safety checks and quality control that you’d expect.

“When it comes to children, it’s simply not worth the risk. Make sure you follow the advice and warnings here from our Trading Standards team, and I hope everyone has a safe, trouble-free and wonderful festive period.”

Councillor John Handley, Vice Chairman of Communities and Place Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Christmas can be an expensive time for a lot of people, so it is all too tempting to grab a seemingly ‘great deal’ without thinking about the consequences.

“But imagine how heartbreaking Christmas morning would be if that present you’ve saved up for breaks – or even injures a loved one.

“When buying online it’s not always obvious whether an item is genuine. If a price appears too good to be true, sadly it usually is.

“I would urge everyone to follow our simple advice to help protect themselves and their families against dodgy, dangerous or fake goods this Christmas. Sticking to the top tips and reputable traders will help ensure a safe and enjoyable time for everyone.”

Anyone needing advice about something purchased can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

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