Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.
This week, we focus on helping residents to keep themselves and their children safe this Christmas, by letting them know about the dangers of counterfeit toys.
We are well into the Christmas shopping period and parents may well be feeling the pressure to buy the latest ‘must-have’ toys for their children.
Budgets are stretched and stores are selling out, so some parents might be tempted to look at cheaper versions available online – but this is also where counterfeit traders are taking advantage and cashing in.
The Trading Standards Service has warned that ‘sold out’ toys available on online selling sites, or bargain versions, may not be all that they seem.
Tests on counterfeit toys have revealed they contain harmful levels of toxic chemicals. There is also a risk that parts could become detached from counterfeit toys and become a choking hazard.
Counterfeit electrical products present a particularly insidious threat to the consumer, undermining legitimate manufacturers and retailers whilst also often posing a risk of fire or serious electric shock.
Parents are advised to be cautious and follow this advice:
● Only buy from reputable shops;
● Look for the name and address of the manufacturer/importer, the type, batch, model or serial number;
● Check the toy has a CE mark – this is a declaration by the manufacturer that the toy is safe. These marks must be on the toy or its packaging and be permanent and easy to read. On small toys these marks may be on a label attached to the toy or on an accompanying leaflet and;
● Look for warnings and instructions – these are precautions that need to be taken to ensure safe use. Toys that are not suitable for children under three require a warning to this effect, plus the reason why – for example, they could be a choking hazard. This can be in the form of a pictogram or words.
Councillor Ainsley Arnold Cheshire East Council cabinet member with responsibility for trading standards, said: “This time of year can be very difficult for parents. They are rushing around shopping, to ensure there are no disappointed children on Christmas morning.
“I urge all residents and parents to take a step back and make sure they are buying reputable, safe toys that won’t put children at risk.
“Look for the signs on a product that shows it has been manufactured to given guidelines and displays the CE mark and appropriate warnings.”
More information and advice about buying safe toys is available from the trading standards section on the Cheshire East website https://goo.gl/9JtKJE or via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service consumer helpline on 0345 404 0506.
For further winter-related advice, visit: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell and scroll down to the winter wellbeing section. Advice can also be found on the council’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/cheshireeastcouncil and on Twitter at: @CheshireEast
Residents can help friends and neighbours, who do not have internet access, by downloading and printing off information from the website and giving it to them.