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Christmas is unsurprisingly the time when most toys will be bought. With thousands of toys entering the Irish consumer market every year, NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) are advising consumers to be vigilant of all goods purchased, particularly those purchased online, and to ensure that these products display the CE mark and other relevant consumer safety markings.  Maurice Buckley, CEO, NSAI said, “Since July 2011, toys sold in the EU must satisfy the strictest safety rules in the world, but it is important to still be aware of safety standards when buying toys, especially for young children.  We hope that by providing the following consumer safety tips Christmas will be a fun and safe holiday for everyone”.

1. Look for the CE mark:  Never buy toys that do not have the CE mark.  All toys for sale in Ireland must have the CE safety mark.  The CE mark is a commitment from the toy maker that the toy complies with all applicable EU safety rules, amongst the strictest world-wide and it shows that the product complies with the essential safety requirements of the European Toy Safety Directive.  A European standard for toys can also be placed on the toy along with the CE mark, this is called EN 71.  This indicates that the toy complies with all safety regulations, for example, that it is made from a non-toxic material.

2. Buyer beware!  More Irish Consumers will make purchases online this year than in previous years.  NSAI advises consumers to always buy toys from trustworthy online outlets and to ensure that all products purchased have the appropriate markings and standards.  In addition, check for any missing parts, loose screws or faulty wiring, before giving them as presents.

3. 2nd hand toys:  Carefully check toys bought second-hand and toys given away by friends.  As they are older, they may not meet current safety standards. NSAI is advising consumers to ensure that these products, although cheaper or second hand, display the CE mark and meet the required consumer standards.  Make sure you read all warning and instructions and be aware of age and safety recommendations.

4. Electrical Toys:  Electrical toys should also carry the CE mark. No electrical toy should be sold that exceeds 24 volts.  All parts of the toy should be properly insulated to prevent a risk of contact with live wires.  Special care should be taken with battery-operated toys as battery leakage can result in burns and other injuries

5. Safety gear:  Every Christmas, Santa is inundated with requests for wheeled items, such as scooters, bikes, roller blades and skateboards. It is important that parents ensure their children use the right protective gear when using their new gifts.  The CE Mark is also required for personal protective equipment, such as helmets and knee and elbow pads. Never buy protective equipment without a CE Mark.  The World Health Organisation estimates that the head trauma injury can be reduced by 69% when a helmet is worn during a collision.

6. Christmas lights:  Many home owners are decorating their homes with outdoor Christmas decorations and lights. However, these outdoor lights burn much hotter than indoor lights and can often overheat.  NSAI advises Irish consumers to use lights and electrical goods that are CE certified to help prevent any electrical fires.

Buckley added, “Standards are constantly being revised and changed and especially so with regards to toy safety.  Since July 2011, new EU rules for toys came into effect, fulfilling the highest safety requirements worldwide.  The new directive addresses a wide range of issues to ensure that toys do not present any health hazards or risk of injury.  Toy manufacturers, importers and distributors have more obligations too.  Before placing a new toy on the market, they will have to identify the hazards and the potential exposure to children via a safety assessment.  Finally, manufacturers are also obliged to ensure traceability of the toy by indicating name, address and number of the item.  These new standards show how standards bodies such as NSAI in Ireland and others around the globe, in conjunction with toy manufacturers and industry, focus on toy safety as a priority.”

For interviews, images or further information, please contact:
Peter O’Reilly, NSAI Public Relations & Marketing Officer, Tel. 01 807 3804