CPSC warns of fidget spinner dangers

FILE - In this May 11, 2017, file photo, Funky Monkey Toys store owner Tom Jones plays with a fidget spinner in Oxford, Mich. Fidget spinners are among the those on the annual list of hazardous summer toys compiled by World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., a nonprofit consumer watchdog. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Fidget spinners are supposed to be calming and fun, especially for students struggling to focus. But after some dangerous incidents involving the popular gizmos, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued new fidget spinner safety guidance for consumers and businesses.

There have been a handful of choking incidents reported with the toys, as well as two instances of battery-operated spinners catching on fire and another incident in which a fidget spinner melted, the agency said. No deaths have been reported.

In May, a 10-year-old girl choked on a part of her fidget spinner and had to have the piece surgically removed. Choking incidents have been reported in children up to age 14, according to the commission.

“As the agency investigates some reported incidents associated with this popular product, fidget spinner users or potential buyers should take some precautions,” Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chief of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said in a statement. “Keep them from small children; the plastic and metal spinners can break and release small pieces that can be a choking hazard; and older children should not put fidget spinners in their mouths.”

Fidget spinners should be kept away from children under the age of 3, the statement said.

The agency also issued safety guidance on battery-operated fidget spinners. Consumers should always be present when the product is charging, never charge it overnight and always use the cable it came with, the statement said. Users should unplug their spinner immediately once it’s fully charged and make sure they have working smoke detectors in their home.

There’s new guidance for retailers, too.

“If a fidget spinner is marketed and is primarily intended for children 12 years of age and younger, companies must certify that their product meets toy safety and other standards, including limits for phthalates, lead content, and lead in paint, if applicable, and the U.S Toy Standard, ASTM F963-16,” Buerkle said in her statement.

But most fidget spinners are considered general-use products, the commission’s business guidance said, so they aren’t intended primarily for children — and they don’t have to meet those standards. Businesses selling general-use spinners are still urged to make sure rechargeable ones have proper battery management systems, to lower their risk of catching fire.

If you have an incident with a fidget spinner, you can report it at SaferProducts.gov.

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