Friday, December 11, 2009

Unsolicited Advice From the Senate Arrives in Moogie's Inbox

The following is an unsolicited email I received yesterday from one of my busy, busy Senators. I'd rather he spend his time fighting to arrive at a reasonable solution to the healthcare "crisis" or fighting cap and trade, but he felt compelled to school his electorate on safe shopping instead. Egad.

Dear Friend,

With the holidays fast approaching, many families are preparing their homes for visitors and searching for the perfect gifts to give their little ones.

My kids all have Saints gear at the top of their wish lists. And as Wendy and I have shopped for them we've, of course, seen other parents out shopping for their kids.

Since I've heard from many parents over the past year about their concern for toy safety, I wanted to share these safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission with you to keep in mind as you do your holiday shopping.

When shopping for children under 3 years old:

-Avoid buying toys intended for older children. These toys may have small parts that could pose a choking danger to children under 3 who tend to put everything in their mouths.

-Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points, and look for toys that are well-made with tightly secured eyes, noses and other parts that children could pull apart.

-Avoid marbles and games with balls less than 1.75 inches in diameter. These products can also pose a choking hazard to young children.

When shopping for children between 3 and 5 years old:

-Avoid toys that are constructed with thin, brittle plastic that might easily break into small pieces or leave jagged edges.

- Look for household art materials, including crayons and paint sets, marked with the designation "ASTM D-4236." This means the product has been reviewed by a toxicologist and, if necessary, labeled with cautionary information.

And when shopping for children ages 6 through 12:

- If you buy a bicycle for any age child, buy a helmet too, and make sure the child wears it.

- For all children, check toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away.

In general, be a label reader. Look for and heed age recommendations. Last year, an estimated 140,700 children were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms after toy-related incidents. It's important to choose the right toy for the right age child.

When the head of the CPSC went through confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, I questioned her about actions the CPSC can take to continually improve the safety of toys. The CPSC oversees the safety of toys and many other consumer products. For more information, you can call CPSC's toll-free hotline at 1-800-638-2772 or visit its website at And I will continue working with the CPSC and on other measures to ensure the safety of the products our children play with.


David Vitter
U.S. Senator

This is my response to that little bit of nanny-statism:

Dear Senator Vitter:

I am an adult who has raised 3 children to adulthood, mostly intact.

When I need your advice on shopping tips, I'll ask for it; otherwise, keep it to yourself and continue your work to shrink government so that it stays out of the business of we ordinary citizens who mind our own.

Merry Christmas.

Love & kisses,

And, here's a post script for all those parents who contacted Senator Vitter with their concerns about toy safety: IF IT DOESN'T SMELL SAFE, DON'T BUY IT.

Hell, lawn darts looked like they might be fun back in the day, but a cement statue of a frog could figure out that lawn darts weren't particularly safe, even when used as intended (and, of course, you just knew they weren't always going to be used as intended!). Hence, my children neither owned, nor played with, lawn darts, thus producing the startling side effect of growing to adulthood, mostly intact.

Of course I'm of the generation that, as children, rode in cars without seat belts and that sported metal dashboards. We also didn't wear bicycle helmets when riding around the neighborhood and slept in cribs with drop-rails. Come to think of it, we ate honey before we were a year old. We were even given a little warm whiskey with honey and lemon juice to suppress a cough, and had warm cigarette smoke blown into our little ears to soothe an earache. So, our generation just must be sadly out of the loop when it comes to child safety.

Egad -- what our parents must think!


  1. Of course I'm of the generation that, as children...

    Moi, aussi. And ain't it a freakin' wonder we survived without Product Safety Commissions of various stripes, the EPA, Dept of Education and on...and on... and on, ad infinitum/nauseum?


  2. When I gently suggested this on one of my posts, nervous Nellies were not happy. Fear is such an easy trap to fall into...even I raised my children to be more fearful than I was ever raised. If life were a do-over, I would definitely take that part back. It is so fun though to make them start hyperventilating by telling them I used to stand up on the seat between my the front seat, or lie on the ledge just above the back seat like a bobble head doll. Such fun~!