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How to get smart about toy recalls - Howdini

By Howdini
 
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More Videos from Howdini 30 videos in this series

How to get smart about toy recalls - Howdini
How to get smart about toy recalls - Howdini
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Parents always worry when they hear about a toy being recalled for safety reasons. Toy expert Chris Byrne explains how to find out about toy recalls and what to do if you have one of the recalled toys in your home.

RON: I'm Ron Corning for howdini.com. If you have kids you have to be mindful of toy recalls due to toxic products and design flaws. So is there a danger lurking in your child's playroom? It's certainly a scary question, and Chris Byrne is here with some answers. He is editor-at-large for Toys and Family Entertainment as well as Royalties, and a contributing editor of Toy Wishes. Chris, thank you for being here to talk about this.

CHRIS: Thank you.

RON: We've heard most often about toy recalls related to lead paint. Does it go beyond that in some cases?

CHRIS: Well, certainly. And there are recalls every year and tons of them. Not only lead paint or other substances that shouldn't be in the toys, but design flaws. And design flaws are generally errors in product production that aren't found out until after the toy has been in the marketplace, and it may have been used in a way that it wasn't intended. Pieces can come loose; pieces can break off and pose a choking hazard. So a parent, then, is given the information they need to return the toy to where they bought it.

RON: Is it to any retailer, and do they get their money back?

CHRIS: Well usually the best place to go is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site, cpsc.gov. Check that out. It will list the toys, and then most of the manufacturers will tell you exactly what to do to return the toy. They will get compensation. Either you take it back to the retailer or mail it in; it really depends on the individual recall. And it's up to the parent to really decide if they want to take the recall notice seriously and return the toy.

RON: We should tell people they assume some level of risk if they keep the toy.

CHRIS: Well, absolutely. Once the toy has been recalled, the manufacturer has fulfilled their obligation to the public. So it really does behoove the parents to check the toys on a regular basis just for wear and tear and things like that; and if there is a recall, follow those instructions to the letter.

RON: I was going to say, for the sake of testing the toy and follow-up, a parent should return it and not just throw it away.

CHRIS: Absolutely, because a) that's the smart thing to do; but b) they are going to give you something for your trouble for returning it. Something usually of equal or greater value. Here's something that I've actually covered in the past: This idea of toys being sold at second-hand stores, picking up stuff at thrift stores.

RON: What if any of those products at one time or another have been recalled, and those toys have fallen through the system and they're available in other places?

CHRIS: Well, it's going to be really hard to know, and what we always say to parents in that kind of situation is certainly check online to see if there might be something in archives. But use common sense when it comes to toys. Don't give toys that will go in the mouth to children under 3, cause they are going to put everything in their mouth. Check toys for wear and tear. If the toy is broken or the paint is chipping off, just take it away. You don't know, it's probably safe. But you want to make sure the kids aren't using broken toys or toys vulnerable to breakage.
RON: So a lot of these toys have come notably from China, although toys are manufactured all over the world, even manufactured in the USA. Does that label tell the whole story — if it says “Made in the USA” are you safer?

CHRIS: No, not necessarily. It really depends on the systems that have been used. Fifteen years ago or so, when there were more toys made in the U.S., more toys were recalled in the U.S. It's not a geographic problem, it really is a systems problem within the toy companies, and the monitoring that has to go on and the testing that has to go on really doesn't depend on geography. So you yourself should look for small parts that could break off, choking hazard, chipped paint, or something else.

RON: Right. Don't go by that manufacturer label alone and go to cpsc.gov. Use that as your guide.

CHRIS: Exactly.

RON: All right, Chris. Thank you. Chris Byrne is editor-at-large for Toys and Family Entertainment as well as Royalties, and contributing editor of Toy Wishes; and I'm Ron Corning for howdini.com.

Howdini is life’s little instruction manual, in HD. We’re all about bringing together the top, most respected experts in their fields to help us be the best we can be at all of the little and not-so-little challenges of our complicated lives. Howdini is the place to be for the know-how you want, when you need it. Or maybe it’s the know-how you need, when you want it. Whatever. We’re here to help. So come in and look around, won’t you?

We think you’ll love finding everything you want to learn about in one convenient place, and as we grow and add more categories and more Howdinis, you’ll be doing less surfing and more learning right here. And unlike television, Howdinis aren’t limited by time—we don’t have to break for commercials, and we’re always on.

Who is Howdini?

People often ask us, is there an actual person who is Howdini? And the answer is, it’s kind of like Lassie. Just as there were many Lassies, there are many individuals who are called Howdini. In fact, each of our experts is a Howdini, and, like all those Lassies, they really know their tricks. (Although so far there is no ‘How to tell your master that Timmy is trapped in the old abandoned mine’ segment)

Our gurus are people you know and trust because you’ve been getting advice from them for years, at places like Good Morning America, The Today Show, Money, Prevention, and Food and Wine (to name just a few). Many are best-selling authors. Others, like our medical experts, are respected leaders in their fields.

Howdini History

The first Howdini was Joanna Breen, who left a comfortable career at ABC’s 20/20 to create a how to video website after one too many frustrating experiences with handymen who weren’t that handy. Joanna had traveled the world reporting with Barbara Walters and others on injustice, outrage, and tragedy, but now it was time to turn her talents to dealing with crises closer to home, like what do you do if you drop your diamond ring down the drain. Joanna is the quintessential can-do girl, so she didn’t find the prospect of launching a gigantic website the least bit daunting. (Ok, that last part isn’t entirely true.)

Joanna convinced an old ABC News buddy, Shelley Lewis, to join her. Shelley had supervised roughly 9.7 million helpful how to segments during a long career executive producing television shows like Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning. A self-described “info-pig” who loves all kinds of information programming, she is never happier than when she’s learning an amazing new tip that she can annoy share with everyone she knows. Needless to say, Howdini was a dream gig for her. A career woman, a wife, a mother, and author of two books, Shelley considers herself equally challenged by all the facets of her life.

Joanna and Shelley were introduced to marketing executive Alison Provost by a mutual friend who knew that Alison had what they needed - entrepreneurial experience, patience, and a checkbook that still had checks in it. Joanna and Shelley could see right away that Alison should join Howdini. They figured that they would take care of the programming, and Alison would bring trustworthy sponsors to help pay the bills. It took Alison significantly longer to be convinced, maybe because she was crazy busy running a marketing firm called PowerPact, which she continues to oversee while serving as the biggest of big cheeses at Howdini. But whether it’s playing Suduko or launching a new business in a field she knows little about, Alison loves the challenge of a good puzzle, It wasn’t long before she began dropping obscure internet terms like “user-interface” and “googlebot” into casual conversation.

What’s Next for Howdini?

Our goals are modest. Complete and total domination of the internet, crushing Google, Microsoft, and any other punks who get in our way. (Hey, it’s a just a goal.) But until then, we will content ourselves making the best, most professional, most credible how to videos you can find anywhere. We want to help you solve your career issues, your parenting problems, your money troubles. We want you to be more glamorous, healthier, and less stressed out. We want you to check Howdini every day for fun, interesting, useful advice from experts you know and trust.

We want to make Howdini the community you love to be part of every day, To do that, we need to hear from you. Please share your suggestions, rate and comment on the Howdini videos, and the blog, (The Howdini blog). Tell us what you’d like us to create for you.

And then, when we’ve achieved that, it’s back to working on complete and total domination of the internet.

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