One of the most recent recalls of a product designed for children is Relax magnetic ball cubes. The recall is due to the fact that the products do not meet federal safety standards and pose significant ingestion hazards for children. Federal regulations for products containing magnets are strict due to the risk of injury if magnets are too powerful or can be easily ingested. While there are no current reports of injuries related to these particular magnets, more than 2,000 magnet ingestion injuries occur each year.
When a product is recalled, it is important for consumers to know how to respond. In the case of this recall, the ingestion hazard is a significant concern for parents who purchased these toys believing them to be safe. Parents should know that they have rights, and may be able to take legal action if their child is harmed by a dangerous or defective toy.
Below, the children’s product liability lawyers at Kherkher Garcia provide information about the magnetic cube recall, magnet ingestion hazards, and how parents can get help if their child suffers an injury.
Magnetic Cube Recall Information
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the recall of Relax 5mm Science Kit, Large Hematite Magnets Magnetic Stones Building Blocks is due to the product not complying with federal standards. The U.S. has federal mandatory regulations on products containing small magnets, including how strong the magnets are in consumer products. The products being recalled are stronger than regulations permit.
Here are some key details about the recall:
- Reason for Recall: The balls are small (5mm in diameter) and powerful, posing serious choking and ingestion hazards and risk of internal injury if swallowed. The magnets can attract to each other or metal objects inside the digestive system, causing perforations, blockages, and potentially life-threatening complications.
- Product Description: The set includes 216 multicolored magnetic balls, sold in a clear plastic case, a portable tin storage box, and a black storage bag.
- Sold at: Exclusively online at Walmart.com between February 2022 and April 2023 for $14-$15.
- Number of Units: Approximately 4,240.
- Injuries/Deaths: No injuries have been reported specifically related to this product.
If you think you may have purchased this recalled set, it is important to take action immediately. Here are some things you can do:
- Stop using the magnetic balls: Remove them from children’s reach and keep them securely stored.
- Contact Joybuy: They are issuing pre-paid labels for returning the recalled product for a full refund.
- Get medical attention immediately if you believe your child has ingested a magnet.
Magnetic Ball Toys: A Closer Look
Magnetic ball toys typically consist of numerous small, powerful magnetic balls that can attract and connect to one another. The design allows for endless possibilities in constructing shapes, structures, and patterns. Unfortunately, the very feature that makes these toys fascinating also presents grave dangers.
Inhalation and Ingestion Hazards
One of the most concerning risks associated with magnetic ball toys is their potential for inhalation or ingestion. Young children, especially those under the age of six, are prone to exploring objects with their mouths. The small size and appealing appearance of magnetic balls make them attractive to toddlers and infants. Accidental ingestion or inhalation can lead to severe consequences.
When multiple magnetic balls are swallowed, they can attract to each other within the digestive system, causing blockages, perforations, or severe tissue damage. The magnets’ powerful force can pinch and trap intestinal walls, leading to life-threatening complications that may require surgical intervention. Moreover, if the magnets are inhaled, they can cause respiratory issues or even pose a risk of lung damage.
Risk of Magnets Detaching
Another hazard arises from the magnets detaching from the toy’s structure. Poorly constructed or low-quality magnetic ball toys might have magnets that separate easily from their casing. These loose magnets become choking hazards, especially for younger children who tend to explore objects by placing them in their mouths.
In some instances, children might accidentally break open the toy, exposing the magnets within. These loose magnets pose a severe danger if swallowed or inhaled, significantly increasing the risk of injuries and complications.
Ingestion Hazards from Magnetic Toys
When children ingest small magnets, several severe injuries and complications can arise due to the nature of these powerful magnetic objects. The most concerning risks and injuries include:
Digestive Tract Obstruction
If multiple magnets are swallowed, they can attract to each other through the intestinal walls, causing a dangerous blockage. The magnets may clamp together within the digestive tract, trapping the surrounding tissue between them. This can lead to a serious condition called intestinal blockage or bowel obstruction, causing abdominal pain, vomiting, and potentially leading to life-threatening complications.
Tissue Damage and Perforation
The strong magnetic force of the swallowed magnets can lead to tissue damage in the digestive system. As the magnets attract each other, they can pinch and perforate the intestinal walls. This can result in severe injuries, internal bleeding, and abdominal infections.
Aspiration and Respiratory Issues
If magnets are accidentally inhaled instead of swallowed, they can pose a risk of lodging in the airways. This can lead to respiratory distress, choking, or lung damage, potentially causing breathing difficulties or infections.
Attraction to Other Magnetic Objects in the Body
Swallowed magnets can attract to each other even through different parts of the digestive system. Additionally, if there are other magnetic objects or devices (like pacemakers) within the body, the magnets can attract to these objects, causing injuries, tissue damage, or disrupting the function of medical devices.
In severe cases of magnet ingestion, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the magnets or address complications like blockages, perforations, or injuries to the digestive system. Surgery poses its own risks and can lead to extended hospital stays and recovery periods for the child.
Ingestion of small magnets can result in grave injuries and life-threatening complications, necessitating immediate medical attention. It is crucial for parents and caregivers to seek emergency medical care if they suspect a child has swallowed or inhaled magnets even if the child is not showing immediate symptoms. The effects might not be immediately apparent but can lead to serious health issues if not addressed promptly.
What Can be Done to Reduce Ingestion Hazards?
Recognizing the dangers posed by these magnetic ball toys, several regulatory bodies and consumer safety organizations have taken steps to mitigate the risks. Some of the measures aimed at reducing ingestion hazards include:
- Safety Standards: Manufacturers are encouraged to adhere to stringent safety regulations, including appropriate warning labels and age recommendations.
- Product Bans: In some regions, there have been recalls or bans on specific brands or types of magnetic ball toys that failed to meet safety standards.
- Education: Parents, teachers, and caregivers should actively communicate and educate children about the risks of swallowing or inhaling these small magnetic pieces.
- Supervision: Supervising children and encouraging safe play practices is crucial. Furthermore, parents and caregivers should explain the importance of not putting small objects in their mouths.
- Alternatives: Consider safer alternatives that offer similar creative experiences without the risks associated with magnetic ball toys. Various building blocks, puzzles, and age-appropriate toys that stimulate imagination and problem-solving skills can provide a safer play environment for children.
While magnetic ball toys offer an engaging and creative outlet for children, they come with hidden hazards and serious injury risks. The potential for ingestion, inhalation, and traumatic injuries demands vigilant supervision and proactive measures.
What Should Parents do if Their Child is Injured by a Defective Toy?
If a child is injured by a defective toy, parents or caregivers should take several steps to ensure the child’s safety, get appropriate medical attention, and address the issue of the defective toy. Here is a general guide on what to do after a product-related injury:
Ensure the Child’s Safety
Quickly assess the severity of the injury. If it is an emergency or if the child requires immediate medical attention, call emergency services or go to the nearest hospital. Provide first aid or basic medical care as needed.
Preserve the defective toy along with its packaging and any instructions or receipts related to the purchase. This evidence can be crucial when filing a complaint or claim. Take photographs of the child’s injuries, if applicable. This documentation can serve as valuable evidence if legal action becomes necessary.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if the injuries seem minor, it is important to have the child evaluated by a healthcare professional. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent and could worsen without proper assessment. This is especially true in the case of ingested magnets. There may be no outward signs of injury until serious damage has been done internally.
Report the Incident
Report the incident to relevant consumer protection agencies, such as the CPSC. They oversee product safety and handle complaints related to defective products. Parents should also inform the manufacturer or retailer about the incident. Many companies have procedures in place to handle complaints and might offer assistance or take steps to address the issue.
Consider Legal Options
If the injuries are significant or if there’s evidence of negligence on the part of the manufacturer or retailer, consider consulting a lawyer who specializes in product liability cases. They can advise on potential legal options and help navigate the process of seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.
Contact a Children’s Product Liability Lawyer
If you have questions about product recalls, child injuries, or your legal rights as a consumer, contact Kherkher Garcia to get answers. Our experienced legal team specializes in child injury product liability cases. If your child has suffered due to a defective product, we will help you fight for their rights. From investigating safety standard violations and determining who is liable, to obtaining rightful compensation – our team knows how to get the results that consumers need and deserve.
Contact us today for expert guidance and advocacy in pursuing compensation and holding negligent manufacturers accountable. Your child’s wellbeing is our priority. Reach out now for a free consultation by calling 713-333-1030, or by completing our contact form.
Image from the CPSC