Oregon readers probably know what a slap bracelet is, but hopefully you do not own one or allow your children to play with one. This is because these bracelets are considered dangerous toys, and at least one little girl has been seriously injured after playing with one.

Slap bracelets are typically made of a thin piece of metal in a shape somewhat similar to a Venetian blind. That metal piece is then covered by fabric or plastic. The bracelets flatten out but spring readily back into a round shape, allowing them to be slapped around a wrist — hence the name.

In 2011, a five-year-old girl was playing with a slap bracelet that, according to the lawsuit, had been purchased at a Walgreens store. In this case, the plastic protective covering became loose or damaged, leaving the metal part exposed. While the little girl was using it, the sharp metal apparently flew out of the protective casing and cut one of her eyes.

“Imagine just having a 9-inch-long razor blade,” the family’s attorney told reporters. “If a little kid comes in contact with this, anything can happen.”

She has had to undergo several surgical procedures, and her sight in the eye she injured has decreased to 20/60 from 20/20, according to the lawsuit. Her eyesight may be affected long term, and she now has an increased risk of developing cataracts.

In 1990, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned that slap bracelets posed a cutting hazard. Walgreens apparently pulled the bracelets off of their shelves at that time, but neither Walgreens nor the manufacturer of the bracelets issued a recall. Many schools also banned the bracelets after the safety issues became known, but the bracelets remained in people’s homes. According to the lawsuit, those who didn’t catch the news were never warned about the dangerous toys.

The girl’s mother has recently filed a product liability suit against Walgreen Co., the distributors of the bracelet and the marketing company that assisted in their sale. The mother’s suit claims that the bracelets were never subjected to proper safety testing, and their labels contained no warning that they might be dangerous.

By bringing this personal injury lawsuit, the mother is hoping to hold those who sold these dangerous toys accountable and to warn others who may still have them of the potential for serious injuries to children.

Source: St. Louis Today, “Mom of O’Fallon, Mo., girl cut by slap bracelet files lawsuit,” Valerie Schremp Hahn, June 5, 2012