What Is A Fidget Spinner?
If you have a child between ages 8 and 14, you are more than likely to have at least one three pronged, bearing-operated spinning device laying on your kitchen table as you read this article.
Fidget spinners are quirky plastic toys that were originally developed to treat children with Autism and ADHD but quickly found a captive consumer in the lucrative “tween” base. Many attribute this success to a series of viral videos that were posted to Facebook and Instagram that showed the toys hypnotically spinning between the thumb and index finger of big-name social influencers. The videos rose to prominence under the #oddlysatisfying hashtag. The toys seemed to immediately strike a chord with an ever connected base of Generation-Z consumers.
The fidget spinner market immediately took on a life of its own. They toys are now available in every conceivable color and shape, with countless variations including flashing lights and even built-in speakers.
Fidget Spinner Fire
Earlier this year, fidget spinners made local headlines as thousands of schools across America banned the distracting toys from their campuses. However, in June 2017, a new threat emerged as certain Chinese manufactured spinners unexpectedly caught fire while plugged into charging ports. This specific type of fidget spinner contained speakers and rechargeable battery packs that required a wall plug to stay charged. Numerous people have reported having plugged their spinners into outlets only to return to the horror of an electrical fire in their home.
Chinese Batteries Strike Again
In the fall of 2016, a string of devastating fires broke out after unsuspecting families purchased “hoverboards” that also used faulty battery technology produced in China. These Lithium Ion (Li-On) batteries are extremely volatile and have been banned by every major commercial airline due to the risk of fire and explosion. To make matters worse, huge demand for products like hoverboards and fidget spinners has caused overseas manufacturers to cut corners by using black market batteries and components in order to increase profits. Consumer watchdog groups have already begun to warn of another potential epidemic of home fires brought on by faulty fidget spinner technology.
Fidget Spinners In The News
Time Magazine recently profiled the potentially deadly fidget spinner fire problem in their article, “Your Fidget Spinner Could Burst Into Flames”. The story quoted Kimberly Allums of Gardendale, Al. who almost lost her home after her son’s fidget spinner caught fire. “We were about five or ten minutes from leaving the house for the day before this happened,” said Allums.
“[My son] noticed that it burst into flames and he just started screaming. I was downstairs and all I heard was ‘fire, fire’ and the fidget spinner had literally — it wasn’t smoking, it was in flames.”
The story went on to tell the experience of a Michigan mother named Michelle Carr. Carr had plugged her son’s spinner in less than half an hour before she noticed flames. She offered what seemed to be a sarcastic warning for other parents dealing with fidget spinners, “I know there are tons of kids who want to go get them, but if you plug them in, just stay by and make sure it’s charged and it doesn’t catch.” Though it seems Carr’s comment was made in jest, fidget spinner fire is no laughing matter. The hoverboard fire epidemic claimed at least one small child’s life and caused millions in property damage.
Another popular online news source Gizmodo, reports that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently investigating fidget spinners and the subsequent injuries reportedly caused by them. The CPSC offered this statement:
“Never charge a product with batteries overnight while you are sleeping. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the charger from the manufacturer that is designed specifically for your device. CPSC is also investigating reported incidents involving children and fidget spinners. We advise parents to keep fidget spinners away from young children, because they can choke on small parts. Warn older children not to put fidget spinners in their mouths.”
These statements raise a variety of questions for people who have followed manufacturers instructions and still experienced a fidget spinner fire. Although some may find these events humorous, fidget spinner fires are a real and present danger.
Fidget Spinners Choking Hazard
Fidget spinners have been a focus of consumer watchdog groups from the very beginning. With a target audience of 8-14 year olds, many spinners are being passed down to younger children. The plastic spinners typically use four, small, individual bearings that can be easily dislodged. Once dislodged, the bearings can easily be swallowed by a small child. CBS News profiled the choking risk of these toys by sharing firefighter Shane Holtsclaw’s story, “You don’t think that would ever happen,” he said. “It was just one of those freak accidents.” Holtsclaw’s daughter was playing with her fidget spinner when the bearings exploded and ended up in her mouth. “I think parents need to educate their children about the danger of these,” said Dr. Nina Shapiro. “I think they should not give these to younger children, children under six, and for older children, to really explain that these are toys but they also have risks, they should not be put in their mouths, they should not be taken apart.”
Fidget Spinners In Summary
Fidget spinners are quirky plastic toys that were originally developed to treat children with Autism and ADHD but quickly found a captive consumer in the lucrative “tween” demographic. They are usually shaped into three-pronged plastic pieces and they come in a variety of colors and variations, including electric light and speaker types. These toys present a risk of fire due to faulty Lithium Ion batteries. The toys are currently under investigation by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Lawsuits have been filed across the country claiming fidget spinner manufacturers and retailers were negligent in marketing faulty and potentially deadly toys to families.