Be careful when buying toys online, consumer group warns


Herald Writer

EVERETT — If you’re one of the growing number of people expected to buy holiday toys online this year, do a little homework first.

That’s because toys sold online aren’t required to carry the same hazard warnings as those in stores, and you may unwittingly be putting a child at risk.

That was the warning issued Tuesday by the Washington Public Interest Research Group, a consumer group that has issued a toy safety report through its national organization for the past 12 years.

"It’s not that we’re trying to ban any of these toys. It’s that parents need this knowledge so they can buy responsibly," said WashPIRG member Aislingc Kerins.

Online toy and video sales are expected to reach $790 million this year, according to and The Boston Consulting Group. While that’s only 2.4 percent of all toy and video sales, it will be twice last year’s online sales.

Kerins said toys sold online are required to pass along appropriate age recommendations but don’t have to list the warnings that are required on toy packaging.

Some general concerns, she said, are choking and toxic chemical hazards. The agency also wants consumers to pay particular attention to hazards posed by balloons and scooters, she added.

"Children are needlessly choking to death on toys," Kerins said. "And dangerous toys can still be found on store shelves."

Choking on small toy parts, balloons and small balls continues to be the leading cause of toy-related deaths, she said. Balloons that have been popped are a particular danger because small children like to put them in their mouths.

The consumer group also warned people of toys containing toxic chemicals known as phthalates, which are used as softeners in toys made of polyvinyl chloride plastic. The chemicals have been linked to liver and kidney damage.

As for scooters, their dramatic popularity in recent months has led to a sharp rise in injuries, Kerins said. Users should wear helmets and knee and elbow pads and should avoid riding them at night.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

A south-facing view of the proposed site for a new mental health facility on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, near 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW north of Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
County Council OK’s Stanwood behavioral health center

After an unsuccessful appeal to block it, the Tulalip Tribes are now on the cusp of building the 32-bed center in farmland.

Most Read