Massive Toy Recall – My Thoughts, Your Thoughts, Some Tips

I’m sure by now many people have heard about the latest recall that has been all over the news. As for posting, I only like to post things that I feel have an added value for my readers and things that either I or my family experience first hand. In this case, we actually own a few of the toys recalled.

How it all started
polly-magnets.jpgFor those of you who don’t know the story about the girl swallowing the magnets after they came loose from her Polly Pockets playset you could read about it here. The story in a nutshell is that while playing with one of her Polly Pocket toys the magnets connecting the clothes to the doll came loose. Not wanting to lose the magnets, she tried to hold on to them with her lips while playing with her dolls and accidentally swallowed them. The magnets joined together through a thin piece of tissue in her bowel and got lodged there. As a result, the magnets pierced a whole in the organ and she ended up having to go for surgery.

According to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), “There had been three reports of serious injuries to children who swallowed more than one magnet. All three suffered intestinal perforations that required surgery.” So now there is this toy recall for all Polly Pockets with magnets.

My wife brought the news reports of this current recall to my attention Tuesday (Aug 14) afternoon. After reviewing the information and looking at the product code underneath the toy, I confirmed that indeed one of our Polly Pockets was on the list.

My wife decided immediately that we have to get rid of the product because its not safe. I looked up at her and said “What are you talking about? Its only not safe if the magnet falls out and if someone swallows it. We have tons of products with magnets that I’m sure are a lot more dangerous than this one.” But as she told me that it was a good way to get rid of it and get something else instead, I acquiesced.

Daughter’s Response
quik-clic-small.jpgAs I confirmed that my daughter’s Polly Pocket!™ Quik-Clik™ House of Style™ Playset was on the list and needed to be sent back to the manufacturer she started her whining. “No, you are not taking away my Polly Pockets! If you take it away, I’ll take away something of yours!” Now, keep in mind that this episode occurred right before she went to bed and as always when kids are tired they can become irritated and irrational just like us parents. polly-recall.jpgThe next morning as I was getting my kids dressed she walked over to me carrying her whole collection of magnetic clothes in the front of her skirt. She told me that she doesn’t really play with the set because its to hard to work and would rather get something else anyway.

The Irony of it all
Now here’s the irony of this whole thing. The same day my wife came over to me with this urgent recall my daughter came home from camp with a massive bump on her forehead from a school bus incident. Several kids including my daughter were thrown forwards and injured when the school bus hit a speed bump (designed to make the road safer). My daughter hit her forehead hard on the back of the seat in front of her while some other kids were thrown to the floor.

That got me thinking. There have been three reported cases of toddlers swallowing magnets from these Polly Pocket toys and rightfully a recall was issued but what about school bus injuries because of a lack of seat belts. I haven’t heard of any school bus recalls. Yesterday, I did a search on school bus injuries and revealed some interesting information. According to National Coalition for School Bus Safety (NCSBS) there have been several reported injuries and even deaths in United States since January this year (2007). In November 2006, three students were killed when the school bus they were riding in plunged off an over pass and fell thirty feet. An investigation into the matter revealed that had the school bus been equipped with seatbelts the students probably would not have been killed.

I hear there is a whole debate with this issue where proponents are arguing for seat belts to be installed on school buses while others are arguing that such an action would do more harm than good. Those against installing seatbelts say that students could use the buckles as weapons and the lap belts could cause some spinal injuries in certain types of accidents. A simple solution would be to install seatbelts similar to the ones you have on infant car seats or like the ones we have in our cars. Regardless, not having seatbelts makes absolutely no sense.

So back to the irony of the whole thing. While there is a North American wide product recall resulting from three reported cases of injuries with these toys, nothing concrete is being done about the lack of safety of school buses that result in tons more injuries and even deaths. Go figure. I don’t understand it. I’m sure there are plenty of parents who are panicking now that this recall has been issued and are not even bothering to send the product back. They’re just tossing it out without even thinking it through. Meanwhile their toddler heads off to camp or school the next morning on a seatbelt less bus.

Taking the toys away
Parenting.com has a few solutions to help parents get rid of the toys in the recall. Obviously for a baby its not really a problem. (I don’t even know why they would provide a tip on taking toys away from babies.)

If he’s a toddler: Yes, toddlers do sometimes become attached — violently, passionately — to favorite toys, but luckily, kids this age are often easily distracted. Try grabbing their attention with a different toy, activity or treat before you make the recalled items disappear.

If he’s older: You have a couple of options:
• Make the toy “disappear” while your child is sleeping. If he is distressed about losing his favorite object, you may have to tell a white lie and feign ignorance about the toy’s whereabouts. And, if the toy is truly beloved, endure the screaming until you can find a suitable replacement.
• Or, go the direct route and use reason. Kids can understand that some things are dangerous and need to go. Sometimes it helps to create a ritual for disposing of the hazardous toy. Involve your child in the process of packaging up the toy for mailing back to the manufacturer, and bring him with you to the post office. Bonus: if the manufactuer has promised a replacement, your kid will have something to look forward to.

If you ask me, parents should be able to sit down and have a proper discussion with their kids about a product without having to resort to tossing it out while their child’s sleeping. I think that’s a terrible suggestion. Also, the article discusses disposing the dangerous toys; however, product recalls usually provide vouchers to replace defected toys. Once you receive a voucher, you could go back to the toy store and buy another product at the same value as the recalled one.

There’s a recall, what should I do?
If you happen to have a toy that has been recalled, simply follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s website. Don’t just throw it out. In the case of the Mattel recall, their customer service website provides instructions for North Americans. (If your product is on the list then scroll down to the bottom of the page for more instructions.) Once the product has been sent back to Mattel, you can expect to receive a voucher for the full price of the toy in about 12 weeks.

“Once you receive your brochure and label, please follow the instructions included. If your product is affected, a remedy in the form of a replacement product voucher will be sent to you within 8 – 12 weeks upon receipt of your return. Vouchers may be used at most national retailers and are good toward any Fisher-Price or Mattel manufactured product.”

So now I turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on the recall? Have you been affected by it? Please, share your thoughts.

This post has been submitted to the August 20 edition of the Carnival of Family Life hosted over at Why Homeschool.

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2 Responses

  1. Shanon says:

    Good post.
    The whole thing with the magnets is just awful. Very sad.

    While we haven’t really been affected by this latest recall (some of my friends have though), I have to say I agree with you about the school buses. They should definitely make them safer. As for the recall, no toy should be dangerous for our precious ones no matter how few cases there are.

  2. Eric says:

    Hi Shanon, thanks for the feedback.

    I agree. Except for cases when a sibling takes a toy and whacks the other sibling across the head with it. You cant blame the manufacture for that.

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