What Parents Can Do
“Hand-me-downs and old children’s products may have sentimental value but may no longer be safe to use,” says CPSC Chairman Stratton. Parents can do their part by reviewing the following list and checking out www.recalls.gov before purchasing or selling any products in a resale store or a yard sale. This Web site provides easy access to recall and safety information from CPSC and other federal agencies involved in product recalls. By searching this site, parents will know if the hand-me-downs should be disposed of or can be repaired.
“We understand the practicality of using second-hand products for children. However, we want parents to make informed decisions when they do,” said Alan Korn, public policy director, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.
Products Most Commonly Found in Resale Stores
- Old cribs made before CPSC and industry safety standards can entrap, strangle, or suffocate children. Cribs with more than 2-3/8 inches between crib slats or cut-outs on the headboard or footboard present suffocation and strangulation hazards. Any cribs with missing or broken parts or corner posts higher than 1/16 inch also present a risk of death. CPSC estimates there are about 20 deaths per year in cribs, many of which are older, used models. Destroy old cribs and those with missing or broken parts. Use only those cribs that meet current safety standards.
Put Safety First When Picking Baby Essentials!
- Play yards with mesh sides, playpens and portable cribs can strangle young children because of faulty side and top rails. On average, six children under the age of 5 die and another 1,400 are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries associated with play yards. The sides of mesh play yards or portable cribs, if left in the down position, may form pockets that an infant can roll into, become trapped, and suffocate. The top rails of play yards or cribs with a rotating center hinge that does not lock into place may collapse and form a V-shape that can entrap a child’s neck and cause him/her to strangle.
- Infant car seats/carriers, when being used as carrier, can eject infants because of handles or side locks that break. There have been at least 360 reported injuries, including serious head injuries to infants that have fallen to the ground. Consumers should search www.cpsc.gov or www.recalls.gov to see if their old Century, Evenflo, Cosco, or Kolcraft carrier was involved in a recall.
- Old baby walkers can fall down stairs. Old baby walkers that do not conform to current standards fit through standard doorways or do not stop at the top of stairs. New, safer styles are designed to help prevent injuries and deaths from falls down stairs: by the use of rubber-like strips underneath or around the base that grip the floor and stop the walker at the edge of a step. In the past, more children were injured in baby walkers than with any other nursery product. Injuries included skull fractures, concussions, internal injuries, broken bones, cuts, and bruises.
- Baby gates can entrap children or fail to keep kids from falling down stairs or gaining access to unsafe areas. Expandable, accordion-style baby gates with large openings were made up until 1985. Baby gates manufactured since 1985 are safer, as they have openings too small to entrap a child’s head. Most gates have a pressure bar or other fastener that can resist the forces exerted by a small child.
- Drawstrings around the neck on children’s jackets and sweatshirts can catch and strangle children. In 1995, CPSC worked with industry to eliminate hood and neck drawstrings on kids’ jackets and sweatshirts. CPSC knows of 23 deaths and 56 non-fatal incidents from January 1985 through November 2000. Pull out or cut all neck drawstrings on children’s jackets and sweatshirts. Do not sell jackets or sweatshirts with drawstrings at garage sales or give them to thrift stores. In 1999, CPSC found that many thrift stores were selling recalled, hazardous products, including children’s jackets with drawstrings.
- Bean bag chairs can choke or suffocate children if opened. In 1996, manufacturers of bean bag chairs changed their design so that young children cannot open the zipper and aspirate on the small foam pellets used for stuffing. There have been five reported deaths and 27 non-fatal incidents involving children who inhaled or choked on the foam pellets.
- Bunk Beds can entrap, strangle or suffocate young children. Bunk beds with openings between 3 ½ and 9 inches in the bedframe or between the bedframe and mattress have contributed to about 70 deaths since 1990. These deaths mostly involved children 3 years old and younger.
- Hairdryers without immersion protection devices are potential electrocution hazards. Since the early 1990s, hairdryers have had built-in shock protection devices to prevent electrocution if they fall into water. However, electrocutions may still occur with older products. Replace the old hairdryer with a new one that has a large rectangular plug and the mark of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Halogen torchiere floor lamps can cause fires when combustibles such as drapes come too close to the bulb. These lamps need a wire or glass guard and a bulb that is 300 watts or less to help reduce the fire risk. More than 40 million halogen floor lamps made before 1997 by numerous firms were recalled because they have no guard to protect against fire. CPSC knows of 290 fires and 25 deaths since 1992 related to halogen torchiere floor lamps. People can get the free wire guards by sending a postcard to Catalina Lighting Consumer Services, 18191 NW 68th Avenue, Miami, FL 33015.
- Cedar chests can entrap a child playing or hiding in the chest. Between 1977 and 2003, 12 children became entrapped and suffocated inside Lane cedar chests that latch/lock automatically when the lid is closed. Lane recalled 12 million chests made before 1987 and offers consumers a free, redesigned lock that allows the lid to be opened from the inside. Consumers in need of a new lock from Lane Furniture should call (888) 856-8758 anytime.
For a list of recent recalls, visit our Product Safety and Recall Center
For assistance in identifying recalled products, call the CPSC toll-free Hotline at 800-638-2772.