Christmas Safety Advent Calendar

Journal of Trading Standards is working with CTSI and the Office for Product Safety and Standards to bring you 25 festive messages about Christmas safety – making sure the toys and gifts you buy this year offer the right kind of surprise to your loved ones. Check back each day for advice – and look out every Friday for the chance to win some great toys!


1st December

Wheely dangerous

Hoverboards might not be quite as trendy as they were a few years ago, but cheaply made, unsafe models are still coming up for sale in the run-up to Christmas.

These can pose a particular fire hazard and consumers are reminded to be on the lookout for the relevant safety marks when buying such items – and never to leave them charging unattended, especially overnight.

Click below for more information and advice.

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2nd December

Chemical bothers

In safety inspections conducted before previous Christmases, a worrying number of children’s toys have been found to contain harmful chemicals.

Such substances can pose a real health risk to children and babies – phthalates, which have been found in fancy dress make-up, dolls and swimming goggles, can lead to an increased risk of cancer, asthma and fertility problems in later life.

“Trading standards services are continuously working to tackle the issue but it is vital consumers remain vigilant too,” says Robert Chantry-Price, a lead officer for product safety at the CTSI. “Parents should be cautious when buying toys this Christmas and not fall for the first deal they see.”

3rd December

Make a mark

Businesses are reminded this Christmas of the importance of understanding the guidelines around CE marking. This short animation from Business Companion covers the basics:

4th December

Christmas cards

Shoppers are reminded of the benefits of paying for their Christmas presents on credit cards. If a purchase costs more than £100, Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 makes the credit card supplier equally liable for any breach of contract on the part of the seller.

In other words, if you have been mis-sold a Christmas present, or if an item fails to match its description, you can seek compensation from the credit card company.

5th December

Welcome advice

The Citizens Advice Bureau has published a handy top-ten tips list for Christmas. The list includes advice on managing your money and budgeting over the expensive festive season, reminders to be wary of unscrupulous and unauthorized traders and lenders, and the benefits of shopping around for the best deal. Click on the link below to read the full list

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6th December

Fake Fingerlings

Fingerlings were among the must-have toys last Christmas, and look set to remain popular stocking-fillers this year as well. Because of this, many counterfeit knock-offs have hit the market, leading to disappointment on Christmas morning – and some have even been found to contain dangerous components and unsafe paints.

Parents are reminded to shop at trusted retailers, to research what the real thing looks like (click the link below) before making a purchase and, as always, to avoid deals that seem too good to be true.

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7th December

Competition Time!


Each Friday we’ll be giving you the chance to win a toy and cut down your seasonal shopping list. If yesterday’s entry on Fingerlings whet your appetite, you’re in luck, as this week we’re giving you the opportunity to win your very own.

To enter the competition, like a retweet this Tweet from @CTSI_UK and follow instructions.

Good luck, and don’t forget to check back next Friday for another great chance to win!

8th December

Fidget fails

Another item that has dominated top-selling Christmas toy lists over the past few years is the fidget spinner; and as a result, counterfeit and outright dangerous versions of the product have proliferated. As well as items that fail to conform to toy safety benchmarks, fidget spinners with blades attached have even been found on sale from unscrupulous retailers. These clearly pose a risk to children, and parents are reminded to be vigilant – and never to buy any toys without the CE safety mark.

9th December

Deadly teddies

More than 1,000 dangerous teddy bears imported from China have been seized and destroyed by Peterborough Trading Standards. The bears were found by officers as they carried out an inspection of a local business ahead of the Christmas shopping rush. The not-so-cuddly toys were poorly constructed, with loose eyes and noses that presented a choking hazard to younger children.

10th December

Make a mark

If you don’t have a good reason to have a laser pointer this Christmas, throw it away. Watch our video to find out why:

11th December

Christmas Social

A new, government-backed initiative has been developed to protect consumers and small businesses from the harm caused by the growing trade in fake goods on social media ‘buy-and-sell’ groups. The Real Deal Online programme has been developed by the National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG) in conjunction with the National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) to create greater awareness of the increasing promotion and sale of counterfeit goods and other illicit products within social media groups. Click the link below to read their advice and be sure to check out the Radio 5 Live video they link to with CTSI Lead Officer, Gavin Terry.

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12th December

Christmas Companion

Christmas is a useful time to remind businesses of the responsibilities they have towards their customers – and so CTSI’s gift to businesses this Christmas is the Business Companion website. It contains a wealth of advice and information on how to ensure that your business measures up to a wide range of compliance and regulatory issues, helping you to be sure that whatever your company does, it’s a Christmas cracker rather than a cold turkey.

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13th December

12 Cons of Christmas

A special choral treat for you today – our very own trading standards singers bring a slightly sinister take to a Christmas sing-along favourite. See if you can make it through all 12 days…

14th December

Competition Time!

Each Friday we’re be giving you the chance to win a toy. Today’s lucky prizewinner will be taking away a Glowpad – helping you create glowing pictures and messages.

To enter the competition, like and retweet this tweet from @CTSI_UK and follow instructions.

Don’t forget to check back next Friday for another great chance to win!

15th December

Not toying around

Buying toys safely – especially if you don’t have children yourself – can be a difficult and uncertain business. If you’re not used to the drill or want to feel more confident with your purchases it’s well worth familiarising yourself with this list of top ten toy safety tips, compiled by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA).

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16th December

Up in lights

As householders across the UK dust off the decorations and prepare to deck the halls, rooftops and gardens, efforts continue to warn consumers of the dangers of buying cheap and unsafe Christmas lights. Shoppers are reminded to make sure any lights they purchase display the CE safety mark, a manufacturer’s mark and a three-pin plug. Charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) recommends the use of LED lights, as they are safer and consume less energy. Read more detailed advice from ESF by clicking the link below.

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17th December

Under the spotlight

Journal of Trading Standards has teamed up with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Office for Product Safety & Standards to bring you a new product safety section called Safety Spotlight.
To kick it off, we’ve put together a Christmas safety article, alongside guidance for other seasonal safety peaks – like Halloween and Bonfire Night – and more general advice on product safety and recalls. Visit the site at the link below.

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18th December

Many happy returns

With UK consumers spending billions of pounds on Christmas goods, now is a good time for businesses to ensure they’re up to date on consumer rights in relation to returns. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, consumers may be entitled to a refund, replacement or repair where goods are faulty or not as described.

If something you’ve sold develops a fault within the first 30 days, the consumer can ask for a full refund. If a fault develops within six months and cannot be replaced or repaired, the consumer is entitled to a full refund in most cases. Consumer law can be daunting to even the most seasoned businesses, so please take the time this ahead of Christmas to make sure you’re prepared. Click the link below for detailed advice.

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19th December

Staying safe at Christmas

Christmas can be a very dangerous time of year from a product safety perspective. We offer some advice to make sure you have a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons.

20th December

Toy safety warning

Parents are being warned to take extra care in their Christmas shopping this year after Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards discovered several unsafe items for sale online.

Particular concerns have been raised about magnetic putty toys containing high levels of arsenic and lead and decorative water beads which it is believed could expand to up to 400 times their original size – making them a serious choking hazard.

If you have any concerns about unsafe items please report them to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06. For more detail on Oxfordshire trading standards’ work read the original report in the Oxford Times below.

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21st December

Competition Time!

Each Friday we’re be giving you the chance to win a toy. Today’s lucky prizewinner will be taking away a Googly Eyes drawing game.

To enter the competition, like and retweet this tweet from @CTSI_UK and follow instructions.

Good luck!

22nd December

Staying Safe at Christmas

Over the next three days we’ll be bringing you a series of posters about Staying Safe at Christmas. Today’s will focus on toys.

Click the link below to read and download.

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23rd December

Staying Safe at Christmas

The next in our series of Staying Safe at Christmas posters looks at Online Marketplaces.

Click the link below to read and download.

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24th December

Staying Safe at Christmas

The last in our series of Staying Safe at Christmas posters looks at counterfeit goods and how to avoid them.

Click the link below to read and download.

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25th December

Season’s Greetings

Happy Christmas