For all those not up-to-date on the latest toy craze, the Fidget Spinner is the latest fad for kids — and apparently just as dangerous.
What is a fidget spinner?
The fidget spinner is a propeller-shaped gadget with ball bearings and button batteries that allows it to spin. The gadget is held between the thumb and middle finger, and when spun makes the prongs become a blur. It was patented in 1997, by Catherine A. Hettinger, and originally marketed as a stress relieving tool and to help children with autism and other special needs concentrate. However, some experts say there is no evidence to support such claims.
When the patent expired, manufacturers all over the world started making fidget spinners. They now come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and have become a nationwide craze among kids across the board. Many enjoy competing to see who can come up with the best tricks or keep their gadget spinning longest. Some retailers reported selling up to 100 a day on weekends. Its popularity has intensified to the point that some schools have already banned fidget spinners because teachers see them as a distraction in the classroom.
Still harmless, right? Why, then, is the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigating this popular child’s toy?
The safety investigation follows reports of two separate injuries. A 5-year-old Oregon boy swallowed a part of the toy and choked before being rushed to the hospital, and a 10-year-old Texas child required an endoscopic procedure after a piece of the spinner lodged in her esophagus. In Victoria, Australia, an 11-year-old boy almost lost his eye while showing his friends some tricks. He threw the spinner in the air, but when he wasn’t able to catch it, the spinner clipped the corner of his eye.
The CPSC wrote in a statement to ABC News: “We advise parents to keep these away from young children because they can choke on small parts. Warn older children not to put fidget spinners in their mouths. We urge consumers to report any incidents with this product to CPSC at www.SaferProducts.gov.”
Despite progress over the years in making toys safer, the continued presence of hazards in toys, not just the fidget spinner, highlights the need for constant vigilance on the part of all of us. A little knowledge, research, and caution can go a long way in preventing serious injuries or death. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Child’s age. Always check the toy label to make sure it’s made for a child within the proper age range. For children under three-years-of age, check to see if the toy can pass through a toilet paper tube. If it can, it could be a choking hazard for your young child.
- Small parts. Check to make sure there are no small parts that can be detached or other potential choking hazards.
- Strangulation hazards. Look for cords, ropes, drawstrings, and other potential strangulation hazards.
- Batteries. The acid in batteries can be fatal if swallowed.
- Magnets. Small magnets can cause intestinal problems, choking, and be fatal if swallowed.
- Sounds. There are noisy toys that can cause hearing damage.
Additionally, parents should check the CPSC website for recalls on items they currently own or those they plan to purchase.
The CPSC is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Their work to ensure the safety of consumer has contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of serious injuries and deaths associated with consumer products. You can help by reporting dangerous products or product-related injuries by calling the CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772.
Mark Bello has practiced law for 40 years. He is currently the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company, and the author of the legal thriller “Betrayal of Faith” available on major online bookstore sites.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. The series consists of "Betrayal of Faith", "Betrayal of Justice", and "Betrayal in Blue", with a fourth book due out in 2019. You can learn more about these topical political, legal thrillers at markmbello.com. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.