Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Monday, 22 December 2008

Tripping over toys 'main danger'

Skiier falls
Falls can occur during many leisure activities

Parents will be checking toys and games for sharp edges or choking hazards before giving them to their children this Christmas.

But, according to trading standards officers, the biggest risk of injury posed by toys comes from people tripping over them.

Officers say that the proportion of dangerous items on sale is low.

Instead, several thousand accidents are caused by falls or children throwing toys at each other.

Safety tips

Officers have offered a series of safety tips for parents. They include giving toys a "good pull and prod" to ensure they do not come apart.

Some returns policies will impose a time limit on non-faulty returns so it is worth acting quickly
Michele Shambrook
Consumer Direct

Parents should also dispose of packaging and ensure that the toy is appropriate for the age of the child.

Among the most important tips, they say, is to use a toy box to clear away toys after play to reduce the risk of tripping over them.

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is calling for a national database to be reinstated to keep track of the cause of injuries in the home.

A database with information from 18 hospitals was used to spot accident trends from the 1970s, but was stopped in 2002.

The TSI, which speaks for trading standards departments across the UK, is also calling for a wholesale review of the CE marking system.

It says that consumers commonly misinterpret this as a safety or quality mark when its primary function is a stamp allowing free movement of goods across the EU.

Unwanted gifts

People wanting to return unwanted or ill-fitting Christmas presents this year are also being told that they have no automatic entitlement to a refund.

Staff from helpline Consumer Direct are telling consumers that refunds are only available for items that do not prove to be as described, or are not of satisfactory quality.

"You will not always be offered a cash refund for unwanted items but you may be able to request an exchange or a credit note," said Michele Shambrook, operations manager for Consumer Direct.

"Some returns policies will impose a time limit on non-faulty returns so it is worth acting quickly.

"If you have bought items online you have additional consumer protections, which in most cases give you a cooling off period of seven working days after delivery to cancel for any reason and get a full refund including original delivery costs."

In these cases, the customer still has to pay to return the item.

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