Washington — Holiday gift giving can end with children in an emergency room if adults are not wary of dangerous toys, the government and consumer groups said Tuesday in their annual holiday safety warnings.
Hal Stratton, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said holiday shoppers who bought children's products earlier in the year may have purchased potentially dangerous items that have since been recalled.
"We have made our list and want consumers to check it twice," Stratton said at a news conference. "Preventing needless tragedies and providing a safe environment are the best holiday gifts parents can provide their children."
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group also released its annual "Trouble in Toyland" report, warning that the greatest toy danger still comes from small balls, balloons and toys with small parts that children can choke on. The group said such toys are widely available, often without warning labels.
The group also said its survey of Internet toy retailers found that almost none post the choke hazard warnings that are required for toys sold in stores.
The Toy Industry Assn. dismissed the list and others like it as "preholiday toy-bashing."
"The toy industry remains totally committed to its position on toy safety and to children's well-being," the association said in a statement.
The government advised that consumers should look for toys with sturdy construction and parts that don't come loose; avoid electric toys with heating elements or sharp edges for children under 8; read warning labels; and immediately discard plastic wrappings that could suffocate a child.
The government's list of children's products recalled in 2002 includes:
l About 280,000 toy sponges and about 310,000 stuffed polyester pool animals, recalled by Dollar Tree Stores Inc. of Chesapeake, Va., because they could pose a choking hazard.
l About 140,000 air-powered toy rockets recalled by Estes Industries, of Penrose, Colo., because defective parts can break off and cause eye and hand injuries.
l About 188,000 cotton candy machines for children recalled by Rose Art Industries Inc. of Livingston, N.J., because the machines' motors can jam and overheat to pose a fire hazard.
l About 152,000 toy tracks attached to children's activity centers recalled by Graco Children's Products Inc., of Elverson, Pa., because the tracks can break into pieces that risk choking and injuring young children.
For a full list of recalled children's products, consumers can call the safety commission toll-free at (800) 638-2772 or visit www.cpsc.gov.