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Battery-powered toys can pose a fire hazard

The toughest cases within the field of product liability are when children are injured or killed by an unsafe product. Especially toys. Every year, numerous toy manufacturers face recalls (and lawsuits) when a design flaw or other defect in their products causes severe burns or other injuries.

According to Fire and Life Safety America (FLSA), the top toys that are prone to burn injuries and fire hazard include drones, hoverboards, and powered ride-on vehicles. One common thread with these toys is that they are all battery-powered. Typically, the battery itself is often the source of the fire. Some batteries, such as lithium-ion, are especially susceptible to exploding or catching fire. Many of the fires occur while the devices are charging, often overnight.

What toys are potentially dangerous?

The FLSA called out three categories of battery-powered toys that pose a particular risk of fire, burns and explosions:

  • Remote-control drones – Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, include remote-control helicopters and drones. These flying machines are gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, they are usually powered by lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) batteries. LiPo batteries can fail when damaged, as when the drone crashes into a wall or the ground, leading to a fire.
  • Ride-on vehicles – It’s great fun for three-year-olds to ride in their own pint-sized Barbie jeep or G.I. Joe truck. Unless it catches fire. Fisher-Price recalled millions of the toddler vehicles because the circuitry was prone to overheating. These toy cars operate with large, rechargeable batteries, which also pose a fire hazard during charging.
  • Hoverboards – In 2015 and 2016, there were hundreds of cases of these self-balancing scooters catching fire: while kids were riding them, while they were recharging and even just spontaneously exploding when not in use. Perhaps thankfully, the bad press, injury lawsuits, and widespread bans caused sales to plummet. Newer UL-approved hoverboards are available for sale in the U.S, but not yet proven to be safe. If you must get one, do not buy a used hoverboard!

The latest fire hazard toy to watch out for

How could fidget spinners, those ball-bearing novelties popular with grade schoolers, be dangerous? The latest and greatest ones light up and are Bluetooth-enabled, requiring them to be recharged. And, you guessed it, some electronic fidget spinners have caught fire while charging.

When it comes to toy safety, it takes a village to keep kids from getting hurt. Manufacturers often work hard to ensure toys are safe before being sold. But some toymakers are more conscientious than others, and even when toys are tested, accidents can still happen. That is why consumers should report all issues with toys and pay attention to recall alerts.

 

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