Fylde coast parents are being warned about dangerous toys on sale ahead of Christmas.
The organisation representing local councils is urging parents to avoid buying fake and potentially dangerous toys which can contain toxic materials, damage hearing and pose choking or strangulation hazards.
The Local Government Association says people should look out for tell-tale signs of counterfeit and unsafe products following recent seizures of harmful toys in the run-up to the festive season.
Recent toys seized by councils’ trading standards teams include more than 54,000 teddy bears which posed a choking hazard, electric scooters with no safety documentation, and audio items exceeding legal decibel limits which could damage a child’s hearing.
Counterfeit versions of popular toys – such as L.O.L Surprise! Dolls, which were last year’s ‘must-have’ Christmas toy - have been found to contain phthalates, a chemical which can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.
Parents should look for the authentic CE mark on toys or packaging which confirms they meet safety standards.
It is also urging people to be wary of turning to suspect online sellers offering next day delivery to get hold of in-demand toys that are out of stock elsewhere, as they may not actually exist, leaving them out of pocket.
Blackpool Coun Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Christmas is a hotbed for criminals who put profit before safety by selling dangerous, counterfeit toys.
"Bargain hunters need to be aware that fake, substandard toys can break and cause injuries or pose choking hazards, toxic materials can cause burns and serious harm, while illegal electrical toys can lead to fires or electrocution.
"It’s not unusual for rogue sellers to cash in on desperate shoppers by selling fake versions of ‘must-have’ toys sold out in well-known retailers, or claim to have them on their website when they actually don’t exist.
"Not only is selling fake toys a crime, it harms and ruins the reputation of genuine traders, costs the economy millions in lost tax revenue and often funds organised crime.
“To help avoid buying fake and dangerous toys, shoppers should check toys have an authentic CE mark which show they comply with safety regulations, look out for grammar and spelling errors on packaging, buy from well-known and reputable outlets, and resist cheap offers that look too good to be true.”
Anyone with information about suspected fake goods can report it to their local council via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.