Product safety: 3 - 4 years

Product Safety


How big a problem is this?

Children are vulnerable consumers and are potentially at risk of harm and injury from a wide variety of products. It can be hard to know how to choose products that are safe for your children. Fatalities are rare, but injury does occur and some specific products have serious risk associated with them.

See our button battery website for how to protect from injury by one the most prominent examples. Retailers, importers and manufacturers are by law expected to make sure their products are safe and have them pass all the tests to a required standard. When choosing a product, look for a label that says the product meets the safety standard. If you are unsure ask the retailer.

Who does it affect?

Children under the age of 2 are at the highest risk of injury from swallowing products, there are still other risks to older-aged kids. The 3 to 4-year age group have more curiosity, mobility and dexterity so adults still have a key role to play. It’s all about helping them avoid injury from the products that are increasingly common in our lives.

Key to this information is making sure products are appropriate for your child’s age. Most products that present risks are formally reviewed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE). They make their recommendations public and provide a product recall notice service, which you can sign up to here.

The less obvious issue in this area is some products that may not present a risk when retailers and consumers first see them. They may be on the market before the system has identified there may be a problem. Toys with high-powered magnets are an example.

High-powered magnets, if swallowed, can join up in the digestive system. They can join with such force they can crush tissue and, if untreated, this can lead to major tissue damage, sepsis and even death.

There are a number of other products that can present risks. Among them are bath seats and rings; super-absorbent polymers; button batteries (link); hot water bottles; bunk beds; age-inappropriate toys and cigarette-lighters. Please note this is not a list of every possible product. Use our top tips for ways you can ensure these and other products you buy are safe to use. And see the lists that we link to at Consumer Protection below.

Top Tips

  • Ensure products meet an approved safety standard by checking the packaging.

  • Follow the instructions on how to assemble, maintain and use a product correctly.

  • Make sure products are stored appropriately and in a safe manner.

  • Products can deteriorate with use, so take a look at them regularly for broken parts.

  • Report any product safety concerns to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) and also to the supplier/manufacturer.

  • Before buying a toy, check that it is right for your child’s age. The smaller the child, then, relative to them, the bigger the toy should be.

    • If a toy is small enough to fit into a toilet roll, it is too small for a child less than three years.

First Aid

Choking: Partial airway obstruction in a Responsive Patient

Never use back blows on a person who is able to cough effectively or breathe. 

Ask the patient ‘are you choking?’ to determine whether their airway is completely blocked. If they are unable to answer or make noise, treat as for total airway obstruction.

If they can answer or breathe:

1.    Reassure and encourage the patient

  • Stay with the patient until full recovery has occurred.  

  • Encourage the patient to cough and expel the foreign body. 

If the obstruction is not relieved – call for 111 an ambulance.

Choking: Total airway obstruction

Call 111 for an ambulance.

1.    If patient is conscious, give up to 5 back blows 

  • With an adult or child, standing or sitting (and leaning forward), and using the heel of one hand, give the back blows between the patient’s shoulder blades. 

  • Check between each back blow to see if the item has been dislodged.

  • Place a baby face down on your lap for the back blows. Ensure you support the baby’s head. Give firm back blows, checking between each to see if the item is dislodged.

2.    If unsuccessful, give up to 5 chest thrusts

  • With an adult or child, standing or sitting, wrap both arms around the patient, at chest level. 

  • Place one fist with the thumb side against the middle of the breastbone. 

  • Grasp that fist with your other hand and give up to 5, separate, inward and upward thrusts. 

  • Check between each chest thrust to see if the item has been dislodged.

  • Place a baby face upwards on a firm surface and give up to 5 sharp chest thrusts just below the nipple line, checking between each thrust.

The back blows and chest thrusts are given separately with a check after each one to see if the obstruction has been relieved. 

3.    If the obstruction has not been relieved 

Ensure an ambulance has been called.

  • Continue alternating back blows and chest thrusts until the ambulance arrives. 

  • If the person becomes unresponsive, begin CPR, using DRS ABCD,  as below.

Airway obstruction in an Unresponsive patient

How you can help

  1. Call 111 for an ambulance.

  2. Quickly check the mouth

  • Use your fingers to remove any visible solid obstruction.

  1. Begin CPR

  • Begin CPR and continue until the ambulance arrives. There may be some resistance to inflations at first until the object has been dislodged.

To start CPR follow Drs ABCD 

D Dangers? Check for any dangers to yourself such as electricity or traffic.  

R Responsive? Check responsiveness by calling loudly and shaking the child's arm. 

S Send for help. Dial 111 and confirm an ambulance is on its way. Use the appropriate emergency number in other countries. 

A Airway. Open the airway by moving the head into a neutral position and lifting the chin. Do not tilt the head back too far. 

B Breathing. Look and feel for movement of the lower chest and stomach area. Listen and feel for air coming from the nose or mouth. 

C CPR. If the child is not breathing, start CPR - 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Put the child on a firm surface. Place the heel of one hand in the centre of the chest just below the nipples. Push down hard and fast 30 times in about 15 seconds (push down one-third of chest depth). Once you have completed 30 compressions (pushes) on the chest, breathe into the child’s mouth pinching their nose closed. Gently puff into the child until you see their chest rise. Continue with the cycle of 30 chest compressions and two breaths until the ambulance arrives. 

D Defibrillator. Attach defibrillator as soon as it is available and follow prompts. 

This page includes a link to the KidsHealth CPR advice and a page containing the Basic Life Support Flow Chart. The Basic Life Support Flow Chart is developed by the New Zealand Resuscitation Council and Australian Resuscitation Council. For more information see  Choking first aid advice is modelled on the St Johns advice on their website (link below).

Links to Safekids’ resources

Product Safety Resources

Links to other organisations’ resources

Current Product Safety Recalls - Consumer Protection NZ

Commerce Commission

Consumer NZ

Standards NZ