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CTSI highlights choking risks to young children

Posted 14/04/22

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is raising awareness of choking risks from small objects in very young children and babies. They are working with other partners which include the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), among others, to help prevent unnecessary injury and even death as part a UK Government-sponsored #nilbymouth campaign.


Many objects pose a swallowing hazard to children, including small parts, strong magnets, and button batteries sometimes found in toys and other household items like remote controls and key fobs. Recently the tragic death of Hugh McMahon, a 17-month-old from Motherwell, due to ingesting a button battery brings into view the stark nature of this issue.


Toys legally require all small batteries (button and AAA batteries) to have a battery compartment that can only be accessed with the aid of a tool. While law-abiding toy producers do their best to create toys that minimise the risk of swallowing, some choose to put children at risk for profit. This month a second Trading Standards conviction was given to a Salford-based toy shop where authorities seized more than 3,000 counterfeit and dangerous toys from the business in 2019 and 2020. Salford City Council's trading standards team and Greater Manchester Police visited the premises in a routine inspection that led to the removal of the toys and the eventual convictions. 


While trading standards and key partners work around the clock to limit the supply of dangerous toys, children remain at risk and parents and guardians should be aware of these risks and what to do to limit them.


The public should store button batteries and small parts out of the reach of children. At the same time, they should give special attention to multipacks, making sure that additional batteries do not drop on floors or anywhere accessible to a child. They should also speak to children about the potential risks of ingestion, the poisonous nature of some objects, and the potential for trapping airways. 


If someone suspects a child has ingested an unsafe item, they should be taken immediately to A&E or dial 999 for an ambulance. If available, take the item or its packaging, which will help medical staff identify the battery or part ingested.


If you believe that a retailer has mis-sold you an item that is dangerous, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.


CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: "Product safety is vital, and toy safety especially so. Trading standards services across the country do their best to identify and remove unsafe toys and prosecute unscrupulous suppliers and retailers. Still, trading standards need the public's cooperation to provide essential information and alert the UK's consumer protection system when they find unsafe products.


"It is vital that the public receives the consumer education that helps them identify unsafe products, enabling them to report them and potentially save lives. CTSI is proud to work with our key partners, BTHA, OPSS, and RoSPA, on this important public awareness campaign."


The British Toy & Hobby Association said: "We're pleased to be able to support the government's campaign #nilbymouth. Toys have to comply with strict safety standards in the UK which means the battery compartment in the toy must be secured that so that children cannot get to the batteries. This is not the case for other common household items, and it is these products and non-compliant toys that pose the largest risk. We would advise consumers to check the toy before giving it to a child to play with and ensure loose and accessible batteries are out of reach of children in the home." 


For more information about this campaign, please click this link.




Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

CTSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk

CTSI Press Office: pressoffice@tsi.org.uk, 01268 582240


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