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Dangerous Products:
Round 'Em Up and Move 'Em Out

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents to join its “recall round-up” of the following hazardous products found in millions of homes. Most of these products have been involved in children’s deaths:


Cedar chests with lids that automatically lock when closed
These chests were manufactured by The Lane Company between 1912 and 1987 and were sold under the “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brands. CPSC and Lane are aware of 12 children (five in the past year) suffocating inside the chests. For information on replacement locks, visit Lane Furniture and click on “Cedar Chest Lock Replacement.”


Chest freezers, manufactured between 1945 and 1970
These chests have heavy lids that latch. The CPSC knows of 27 children who were suffocated between 1980 and 1999 due to becoming trapped in an old chest freezer. Destroy old freezers by taking the door off or removing the latch.


Old cribs
If your crib is more than a few years old, you should consider getting a new one. Cribs manufactured before various federal safety standards were enacted have the potential to entrap, strangle or suffocate children. There is no year after which all cribs can be deemed safe, because these standards were enacted in several phases. Cribs more than 10 years old should definitely be replaced.


Old cribs with corner posts, cutouts on the headboard or footboard, or cribs with more than 2-3/8 inches between the slats can be hazardous. Even cribs that meet the federal safety standards can become unsafe with age, as screws and bolts may loosen and create gaps between pieces of the frame. Cribs with missing or broken parts also present a risk. The CPSC estimates that 32 children die each year due to unsafe cribs.


Drawstrings around the neck on children’s jackets and sweatshirts
These can catch on objects and cause strangulation. In 1995, the CPSC worked with the clothing industry to eliminate hood and neck drawstrings on kids’ jackets and sweatshirts. The CPSC knows of 23 related deaths and 56 non-fatal incidents from 1985 through 2000. Pull out or cut all neck drawstrings on children’s jackets and sweatshirts.


Halogen torchiere floor lamps
These lamps can cause fires when combustibles, such as drapes, come too close to the bulb. The lamps need a wire or glass guard to help reduce fire risk. More than 40 million halogen floor lamps made before 1997 (by numerous companies) have been recalled because they have no such guard. The CPSC knows of 270 fires and 19 deaths related to halogen torchiere floor lamps. To receive a free wire guard, send a postcard to Catalina Lighting Consumer Services, 18191 NW 68th Ave., Miami, FL 33015.


Playpens with collapsible rails


The top rails must be turned to set up the playpen, otherwise a child can be entrapped in the V-shape folded top rails. The CPSC is aware of 15 deaths that occurred when the top rails of playpens collapsed. A new industry standard requires that the top rails automatically lock into place when the playpen is fully set up. Older playpens can’t be modified for safety and should be destroyed.


Window-blind cords with loops
Window blinds may have pull cords and inner cords that can form a loop and cause strangulation if a child becomes entangled in the cords. The CPSC knows of 130 such strangulation deaths since 1991. In 1995, the CPSC worked with the window-blind industry to eliminate pull-cord loops on new window blinds. However, looped pull cords and inner cords on old blinds must be repaired. Go to Window Covering Safety Council or call 800-506-4636 to receive a free repair kit.


Of course, none of these items should be sold at garage sales or donated to thrift stores. In 1998, the CPSC found that many thrift stores were selling recalled, hazardous products. For more information on recalls, visit CPSC or call their hotline at 800-638-2772.

Stay Alert! Bookmark our Safety Alert page for the latest product recalls and safety alerts.


Learn More: Using any product safely is often a matter of common sense. Click here for 5 Key Product Safety Precautions.

Kathy Sena is the health columnist for United Parenting Publications and the mother of a 6-year-old son.


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