We’ve all seen the ads. Round magnets that are connected to form shapes, magnetic building sets, or magnets strung together to make jewelry.

But how safe are these magnets that are being marketed towards kids? Not safe. High-powered magnet sets are commonly marketed as toys when they’re actually only safe for adults. These magnets are already banned in toys but consumers are misled to think the sets are safe for children.  If two or more high-powered magnets are swallowed, the magnets can pull toward each other inside the body, leading to severe intestinal damage requiring surgery.

The small size and large number of high-powered magnets in these sets make it nearly impossible to tell whether any magnets are missing. Magnet product vendors should effectively communicate the hazard associated with high-powered magnet ingestion, as well as set clear age requirements for use of their product. The CPSC should also create a mandatory magnet standard to keep the products out of the hands of children.

Here are some ways to protect your children from magnet ingestions:

  • Remove high-powered magnet sets from homes with small children.
  • Check high-powered magnet toys for loose or missing magnets.
  • If you suspect your child has swallowed magnets, don’t wait for symptoms, but immediately seek medical attention. Symptoms are similar to those of common illnesses (vomiting, fever, and stomach pain).
  • Check the CPSC website for recalls, and report any incidents with magnets at gov.

Learn more about high-powered magnet safety at Prevent Child Injury.