Customs reminds parents of toy lantern safety (with photos)

18 Sep 2007

With the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, Customs and Excise Department tested the safety of toy lanterns to protect consumer interest.

Customs officers conducted 130 spot checks on retailers supplying battery-operated toy lanterns and light sticks. Thirteen models of battery-operated toy lanterns and three models of light sticks were sent to the Government Laboratory for safety tests.

Of these models, 11 toy lanterns and two light sticks passed the tests.

Two toy lanterns and one light stick were found with problems.

Two battery-operated lanterns did not carry the required instructions on safe battery usage such as "Do not mix old and new batteries" and "Do not mix alkaline, standard (carbon-zinc), or rechargeable (nickel-cadmium) batteries'. Correct battery polarity and voltage were not marked on the battery compartment.

Moreover, name and address of the local manufacturers, importers or suppliers were not identified in the two lanterns and the light stick.

One of the battery-operated lanterns was contained in an elastic plastic bag of thickness less than 0.03810mm, posing suffocation hazard to children. Hong Kong Customs served a Prohibition Notice on the retailer, prohibiting the supply of the goods concerned.

Among the 13 tested samples, seven lanterns have sound-producing features. The Government Laboratory confirmed that these lanterns complied with the requirement of the peak emission sound pressure level prescribed in the European Standard.

Chief Trade Controls Officer, Mr Ng Hing Tong, today (September 18) reminded parents to watch out for potential hazards of battery-operated lanterns and light sticks when selecting toys for their children.

Tips to guard against potential risks are as follows:

In 2006, the Department conducted 120 spot checks on various retailers supplying battery-operated toy lanterns and light sticks.

Three persons were prosecuted for supplying unsafe toy lanterns and light sticks while 21 suppliers were served with written warnings under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance.

Under the Ordinance, it is an offence to manufacture, import or supply a toy unless the toy complies with one of the prescribed safety standards.

The Ordinance carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for one year on first conviction; and a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for two years on subsequent conviction.

To report about unsafe toys and children's products, consumers can call the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or write to the Consumer Protection and Prosecution Bureau, Customs and Excise Department at 11/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point.

Ends/Tuesday, September 18, 2007

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