SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation today making Illinois the first state in the nation to ban a dangerous child toy – “yo-yo waterballs.” The toy is a rubber-like ball filled with liquid and is attached to an elastic cord that can wrap around a child’s neck when the child swings the toy. The Consumer Product Safety Commission received about 400 reports nationwide of injuries to children from yo-yo waterballs. An Illinois mother pushed for legislation to ban the toy after her son was nearly strangled by a yo-yo waterball.
“It’s our job in state government to pass laws to keep our children safe and give parents the information they need to make the right decisions for their kids,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “If we know a toy like the yo-yo water ball is dangerous to young kids, then the responsible thing to do is take it off the market. But, we’re going a step further. In addition to banning a potentially deadly toy, I’m signing a law to provide more information to parents on what products are and aren’t safe for their kids.”
Lisa Lipin a Skokie mother, has been lobbying to ban yo-yo waterballs on the national level since July 2003, when her five year-old son was injured after the cord wrapped around his neck, nearly strangling him. Lipin brought the safety issue to the attention of state legislators and they listened.
“I lobbied for this ban because I saw what this toy can do to a child and children continue to keep getting injured. This is not only about protecting kids in Illinois but children across the country,” said Lipin. “Illinois will serve as a model across the country as I help concerned parents and legislators in six other states to get similar legislation passed.”
Lipin contacted legislators Sen. Jeffery Schoenberg (D- Evanston) and Rep. Elizabeth Coulson (R- Glenview) about sponsoring the state bill banning the toy and she says they supported her on this bipartisan effort every step of the way.
"As a parent of young children and as a lawmaker, I certainly think it's critical that we protect our children by keeping these potentially deadly toys out of their hands," Sen. Schoenberg said. "I'm proud that Illinois is a national leader in banning the sale of these unsafe toys."
“While some may think banning yo-yo waterballs is a frivolous exercise, it’s deadly serious,” said Rep. Coulson. “They are a serious hazard to children’s health and have already been banned in several European countries, with another two issuing warnings about the toy’s dangers. There is no good reason why this toy should still be in the market for children to buy.”
There are more than 10 million yo-yo waterballs sold in the United States. On September 24, 2003, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an advisory about the potential risk of strangulation from the yo-yo waterball toy. Reported injuries include suffocation or strangulation, breathing difficulties, broken blood vessels and bruises. Even with numerous reports of injuries, the Commission’s investigation concluded that the yo-yo waterball toy does not meet congressionally mandated standards for product recall.
Under the Illinois ban, a person who sells a yo-yo waterball in the state could face a fine of $1,001 for each violation. The law is effective January 1st, 2006.
Approximately 60,000 children are injured and 50 are killed each year by child products, nationwide. And because some of these injuries are a result of defective products, Gov. Blagojevich signed a second piece of legislation today, Senate Bill 526, requiring the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to post childhood product recalls on their website and provide a link to www.recall.gov with the list of recalls within 24 hours of identification.
SB 526 amends Children’s Product Safety Act and expands the definition of a “children’s product” from age six to age nine. Examples of these products include: cribs, toddler beds, car seats, high chairs, booster seats, bath seats, gates used to keep children in a confined area, strollers, walkers, swings or toys. The bill also requires manufacturers and retailers to post recall information on their websites and in stores that sell the product.
The new law also adds a fine to the manufacturers, retailers, or distributors if they do not give proper notification of a faulty product. The fine would be up to $500 each day until the violation is corrected. The money would be collected from the Office of the Attorney General and put into a special fund. The money generated would be used for public education programs and court costs associated with the prosecution of the violators.
“Faulty toys are the leading cause of injury or death related to recalled child products because of choking or falling,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “We want to make sure the children of Illinois are not injured needlessly and we want parents to have the peace of mind knowing that the products they purchase will not be harmful to their children.”
Sen. Carol Ronen (D-Chicago) sponsored the bill in the Senate and Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago) sponsored the bill in the House.
“I was proud to sponsor this bill which strengthens landmark legislation which passed several years ago to keep unsafe products away from children. This bill will strengthen that law by ensuring information is kept up to date,” said Sen. Ronen.
“Protecting our children is of the utmost importance,” said Rep. Osterman. “Recalling a children’s product is useless if consumers aren’t notified. This legislation broadens the scope of current law to protect families from using recalled products that endanger children.”
Kids In Danger (KID) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, dedicated to protecting children by improving product safety. The organization was established in 1998 after Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar’s 16- month old son died from a recalled portable crib. Danny's death was also the impetus for the original Children's Product Safety Act.
“We are happy to know that the state is strengthening the Child Product Safety Act and we encourage more people to use this information to save innocent children from harm,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director, Kids In Danger. “This is also a good time to remind parents and caregivers to check all the toys and children's products they use. Potentially hazardous products can end up at garage sales or passed down to family and friends, or a product bought new can also end up being recalled.”
For more information on recalled items, visit www.idph.state.il.us or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission www.cpsc.gov or for a complete history of recalls visit www.recall.gov.
Senate Bill 526 is effective immediately, with the exception of the civil fines associated with violations, which will take effective January 1, 2006.