Parents & Teachers


Stay Informed of Important Product Safety Recalls

Montlick & Associates

Safety Recalls

Montlick & Associates' Family Safety Advocate, Jacquie Palisi, shares important information regarding product recalls, and how you make sure you are aware of recalled products. Learn how you can help keep your family safe from dangerous and defective products: watch our video and download our "Product Safety Recalls Guide" below.

Child Accidents In Recliner Chairs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is concerned about possible accidental death or injury to young children using or playing on recliner chairs. Since January 1980, the CPSC has received reports of 8 deaths and several serious brain injuries to children involving recliner chairs.

Information available to the CPSC about the accidents shows that the victims:

  • were between the ages of 12 months and 5 years;
  • were usually unsupervised at the time of the accident;
  • were apparently climbing or playing on the leg rest of the chair while the chair was in a reclined position;
  • were trapped when their heads entered the opening between the chair seat and the leg rest as their own body weight forced the leg rest down.

After receiving this information from CPSC, the recliner chair industry established voluntary guidelines that called for improvements in new recliner chairs. These guidelines specify: 1) that a device(s) will be installed that will reduce the opening created between the leg rest and seat cushion when the chair is in the reclined position; and 2) that the following caution be attached to all recliner chairs:


Consumers who have the older design of recliner chairs in their homes are urged to use appropriate precautions in preventing young children from playing on these chairs. Consumers who are shopping for new recliner chairs should look for chairs that meet the voluntary industry guidelines.

Children's Sleepwear

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sets national safety standards for children's sleepwear flammability. These standards are designed to protect children from burn injuries if they come in contact with an open flame, such as a match or stove burner. Under amended federal safety rules, garments sold as children's sleepwear for sizes larger than nine months must be:

1. Flame Resistant -- Flame resistant garments do not continue burning when removed from an ignition source. Examples include inherently flame resistant polyesters that do not require chemical treatment.


2. Snug fitting -- Snug-fitting garments need not be flame resistant because they are made to fit closely against a child's body. Snug-fitting sleepwear does not ignite easily and, even if ignited, does not burn readily because there is little oxygen to feed a fire.

**The rules for flame resistance or snug fit do not apply to sleepwear for sizes nine months and under because infants that wear these sizes are insufficiently mobile to expose themselves to an open flame.

Children should never be put to sleep in T-shirts, sweats, or other oversized, loose-fitting cotton or cotton-blend garments. These garments can catch fire easily and are associated with 200 to 300 emergency room-treated burn injuries to children annually.

Most manufacturers are using hangtags on their snug-fitting sleepwear to let consumers know that the product meets federal safety standards. The hangtags remind consumers that a snug fit or flame resistance are necessary for safety.

Drawstrings On Children's Clothing

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission worked with Thelma Sibley of Milan, Michigan, who suffered the worst nightmare of any parent -- the death of her child. Five-year-old Nancy Sibley was strangled by a hidden hazard when the drawstring of her winter coat was caught on a playground slide. Nancy's death was not the only incident.

Since 1985, there were 17 deaths and 42 nonfatal incidents caused by drawstring entanglement. Playground slides were involved in over one-half of the incidents. Also implicated were school buses, cribs, and other products such as an escalator, a fence, farm grinder, turn signal lever, ski chair lift and tricycle.

Because of the number of drawstring-related incidents, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission first worked with manufacturers to remove catch points on playground slides and other products. Upon further analysis, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission decided that removing strings from the garments was the best approach.

Escalator Safety

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants you and your family to be safe when riding escalators. The CPSC estimates that there were 7,300 hospital emergency room-treated injuries from escalators in 1994. Seventy-five percent of these injuries were due to falls, another 20 percent occurred when hands, feet or shoes were trapped in escalators.

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent escalator injuries, especially injuries to young children:

  • Be aware that loose shoelaces, drawstrings, scarves, and mittens can get trapped in escalators. In the past year, CPSC reached an agreement with a number of children's clothing manufacturers to remove drawstrings from the necks and hoods of children's garments. If your child's clothing still has drawstrings, remove them.
  • Always hold children's hands on escalators and do not permit children to sit or play on the steps.
  • Do not bring children onto escalators in strollers, walkers, or carts.
  • Always face forward and hold the handrail.
  • Avoid the edges of steps where entrapment can occur.
  • Learn where the emergency shutoff buttons are in case you need to stop the escalator. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers/American National Standards Institute Escalator Committee set a voluntary standard for escalators. The standard requires:
  • That the emergency shutoff buttons be at the top and bottom of each escalator. The button should be on the right side of the escalator when facing the stairs.
  • That sidewalls be made of low-friction material so soft-soled shoes cannot get caught easily.
  • That "skirt obstruction devices" (which sense the presence of a foreign object and automatically shut off the escalator) be at the top and bottom of the escalator.
  • That side clearance at the edges of steps be no more than 3/16 inch.
  • That warning signs be placed on escalators reminding parents to hold children's hands and face forward.
  • That each step have painted foot prints or brightly colored borders.

Exercise Equipment Injuries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that each year about 8,700 children under 5 years of age are injured with exercise equipment. There are an additional 16,500 injuries per year to children ages 5 to 14. Types of equipment identified in these cases include stationary bicycles, treadmills, and stair climbers. Fractures and even amputations were reported in about 20 percent of exercise equipment related injuries.

The CPSC is concerned about the severity of injuries to children, especially because the hazard may not be obvious. Therefore, the CPSC warns parents to always keep children away from exercise equipment. Never use a bike without a chain guard, and when not using the equipment, store it or lock it so children cannot get to it.

Space Heaters

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of room (space) heaters. More than 300 persons die in these fires. An estimated 6,000 persons receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.


Consumers should be aware of the following hazards when buying and using gas, wood, kerosene, and electric space heaters:

  1. Fires and burns caused by contact with or close proximity to the flame, heating element, or hot surface area.
  2. Fires and explosions caused by flammable fuels or defective wiring.
  3. Indoor air pollution caused by improper venting or incomplete combustion of fuel-burning equipment.
  4. Carbon monoxide poisoning caused by improper venting of fuel-burning equipment. See tips on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning for more information
General Suggestions for All Space Heaters

CPSC offers the following general suggestions for selection, safe use, and maintenance of gas, wood, kerosene and electric space heaters:

  • Select a space heater with a guard around the flame area or the heating element. This will help keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.
  • When selecting a heater, look for one that has been tested and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have been determined to meet specific safety standards, and manufacturers are required to provide important use and care information to the consumer.
  • Buy a heater that is the correct size for the area you want to heat. The wrong size heater could produce more pollutants and may not be an efficient use of energy.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer's operating instructions. A good practice is to read aloud the instructions and warning labels to all members of the household to be certain that everyone understands how to operate the heater safely. Keep the owner's manual in a convenient place to refer to when needed.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Some heaters have very hot surfaces. Children should not be permitted to either adjust the controls or move the heater.
  • Keep doors open to the rest of the house if you are using an unvented fuel-burning space heater. This helps to prevent pollutant build-up and promotes proper combustion. Even vented heaters require ventilation for proper combustion.
  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or leave the area. For fuel-fired heaters, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide could accumulate and uncontrolled burning could cause a fire.
  • Never use or store flammable liquids (such as gasoline) around a space heater. The flammable vapors can flow from one part of the room to another and be ignited by the open flame or by an electrical spark.
  • Be aware that mobile homes require specially designed heating equipment. Only electric or vented fuel-fired heaters should be used.
  • Place heaters at least three feet away from objects such as bedding, furniture and drapes. Never use heaters to dry clothes or shoes. Do not place heaters where towels or other objects could fall on the heater and start a fire.
Specific Suggestions

Different types of space heaters present some different safety problems. You should be aware of important information and advice about these specific types of heaters.

  • Have gas and kerosene space heaters inspected annually by qualified persons to ensure that they are properly adjusted and clean. Keep the wick of the kerosene heater clean and properly adjusted. Appliances that are not working properly can release harmful and even fatal amounts of pollutants.
  • Be certain that your heater is placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, not on rugs or carpets.
  • Keep the heater in a safe working condition. Replace missing guards and controls at once. Never operate a defective heater. Have all necessary repairs done by qualified repair persons.
Kerosene Space Heaters
  • Never use gasoline in a kerosene heater. Even very small quantities of gasoline in the heater tank can cause a fire. Kerosene should never be stored or carried in a container that has had gasoline because the residual gasoline is enough to increase the flammability of the kerosene.
  • Only use 1-K kerosene in kerosene heaters. Kerosene should be purchased from a dealer who can certify that it is 1-K grade kerosene. The fact that kerosene is "water clear" does not ensure that it is 1-K, since both 1-K and 2-K can appear clear.
  • Never fill the fuel tank of a kerosene heater beyond the full mark because as the fuel warms, it expands and could spill and cause a fire.
  • Do not attempt to remove the fuel tank, or refuel the heater when it is operating or hot. The heater should not be moved while it is operating.
  • Refuel heater out of doors.
  • If flare-up or uncontrolled flaming occurs, do not attempt to move the heater. If your heater is equipped with a manual shut-off switch, activate the switch to turn off the heater. Do not attempt to extinguish a kerosene-heater fire with water or blankets. If activation of the shut-off switch does not extinguish the flame, leave the area and immediately call the fire department.
  • Keep kerosene stored outside in a sealed blue container labeled "Kerosene."
Portable Electric Space Heaters

Portable electric heaters manufactured after 1991 include many new performance requirements to enhance safety. For portable electric heaters that may present a fire hazard when tipped over, a tip-over switch will turn the heater off until it is turned upright again. New heaters also include indicator lights to let users know that the heater is plugged in or is turned on. Some manufacturers have included technically innovative safety controls such as infrared or proximity sensors, which can turn a heater off when objects come too close, or when children or pets are near. These kinds of controls may prevent burn injuries to children who might play too near a heater, or reduce the risk of ignition of combustible materials that could contact the heater.

  • Use heaters on the floor. Never place heaters on furniture, since they may fall, causing parts in the heater to dislodge or break, which could result in a fire or shock hazard.
  • Unless certified for that purpose, do not use heaters in wet or moist places, such as bathrooms; corrosion or other damage to parts in the heater may lead to a fire or shock hazard.
  • Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord could cause the cord to overheat, and can cause a fire.
  • Do not use an extension cord unless absolutely necessary. Using a light-duty, household extension cord with high-wattage appliances can start a fire. If you must use an extension cord, it must be marked #14 or #12 A WG; this tells the thickness or gauge of the wire in the cord. (The smaller the number, the greater the thickness of the wire.) For example, a cord sold as an air conditioner extension cord will have these heavy wires. Do not use a cord marked #16 or #18 AWG. Only use extension cords bearing the label of an independent testing laboratory such a U.L. or E.T.L.
  • Be sure the plug fits snugly in the outlet. Since a loose plug can overheat, have a qualified repairman replace the worn-out plug or outlet. Since heaters draw lots of power, the cord and plug may feel warm. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repairman check for problems. If the heater and its plug are found to be working properly, have the outlet replaced. Using a heater with a hot cord or plug could start a fire.
  • If a heater is used on an outlet protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and the GFCI trips, do not assume the GFCI is broken. Because GFCIs protect the location where leakage currents can cause a severe shock, stop using the heater and have it checked, even it if seems to be working properly.
  • Broken heaters should be checked and repaired by a qualified appliance service center. Do not attempt to repair, adjust or replace parts in the heater yourself.
Wood Burning Heaters
  • Existing building codes and manufacturer's instructions must be followed during installation.
  • Buy wood-burning stoves that are certified as meeting EPA emission standards.
  • Check chimney and stove pipes frequently during the heating season for creosote build-up and have them cleaned annually.
  • Stoves must be placed on an approved floor protector or fire resistant floor.
  • Do not burn trash or anything other than the proper fuel.
  • Use a metal container for ash removal.
Gas Space Heaters
  • All unvented gas-fired space heaters (manufactured after 1983) should be equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). An ODS detects a reduced level of oxygen in the area where the heater is operating and shuts off the heater before a hazardous level of carbon monoxide accumulates. These heaters also have labels that warn users about the hazards of carbon monoxide.
  • Always have your gas heater and venting system professionally installed and inspected according to local codes.
  • Vented gas-fired heaters can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are not vented properly.

If your space heater is meant to be vented, be sure that the heater and flue are professionally installed according to local codes. Vent systems require regular maintenance and inspections. Many carbon monoxide poisoning deaths occur every year because this is not done. A voluntary standard requirement provides that a thermal shut-off device be installed on vented heaters manufactured after June 1, 1984. This device is designed to interrupt heater operation if the appliance is not venting properly.

Be aware that older gas-fired space heaters may not be equipped with the safety devices required by current voluntary standards, such as an ODS or a pilot safety valve that will turn off the gas to the heater if the pilot light should go out. If the pilot light on your heater should go out, use the following safety tips:

  • Light the match before you turn on the gas to the pilot. This avoids the risk of a flashback, which could occur if you allow gas to accumulate before you are ready to light the pilot.
  • IF YOU SMELL GAS, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIGHT THE APPLIANCE. Turn off all controls and open a window or door and leave the area. Then call a gas service person. Do not touch any electrical switches.
  • Remember that LP-gas (propane), unlike natural gas supplied from the gas utility distribution pipes, is heavier than air. If you believe a leak has occurred, go to a neighbor's phone to call your gas distributor or fire department. Do not operate any electrical switches or telephones in the building where the leak has occurred because a spark could cause an explosion.
Health Effects of Combustion Products

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that interferes with oxygen availability throughout the body. Exposed individuals and physicians may not recognize some symptoms as CO poisoning due to their similarity with viral illnesses such as influenza. Individuals with heart disease, chronic respiratory ailments, such as emphysema, and anemia, and also fetuses, infants, and young children have an increased susceptibility to CO poisoning. Low levels of CO can cause fatigue and chest pain in people with chronic heart disease. As CO exposures increase, symptoms progressively worsen through headaches, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and disorientation. At very high CO exposures, loss of consciousness and death are possible.

Nitrogen dioxide can irritate the skin and the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and throat. Depending upon the level and duration of exposure, respiratory effects range from slight irritation to burning and chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. In addition, repeated exposure to elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide may contribute to bronchitis. Children who are exposed to low levels of nitrogen dioxide, often show increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Others who may be especially sensitive to nitrogen dioxide exposure include people with chronic respiratory disease including bronchitis, asthma and emphysema.

Reducing Exposure to Combustion Products in Homes

Take special precautions when operating unvented space heaters. Consider potential effects of indoor air pollution when deciding to use unvented kerosene or gas space heaters. Follow the manufacturer's directions, especially about using the proper fuel and about providing fresh air while the heater is in use. This can be accomplished by keeping doors open to the rest of the house from the room where the heater is being used. In addition, keep the heater properly adjusted. Choose a space heater properly sized for the room you wish to heat and make sure that it is installed correctly. Keep flues and chimneys in good condition. Leaking chimneys and damaged flues can result in the release of harmful or even fatal concentrations of combustion gases, especially carbon monoxide. If operating any combustion type appliance, including space heaters, install a CO alarm. Use alarms that meet the current requirements of UL 2034 or IAS 6-96.

General Home-Safety Information

Regardless of the method you use to heat your home, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages you to:

  • Equip your home with a least one smoke alarm on each floor and outside sleeping areas.
  • Install a CO alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home.
  • Keep at least one dry-powder operative, ABC-type fire extinguisher in the home at all times.
  • Keep areas around heat sources free of papers and trash.
  • Store paints, solvents and flammable liquids away from all heat and ignition sources.
  • Develop a fire-escape plan before a fire occurs. Be certain that all members of the household understand the plan and are able to carry out the plan in case of emergency.
  • Be sure the plan includes a predetermined meeting place outside the house.
  • If your clothing does catch fire, don't run! Drop down immediately, cover face with hands, and roll to smother the flames. Teach your family how to do this.
  • Have annual safety checks on all home heating equipment.

Toy Safety

Protect Your Child From Hazardous Toys!

Montlick & Associates

Safe Toys Christmas

Make safety your first priority when buying toys for children! Watch this week's television broadcast, view and download a printable Toy Safety .pdf, and use the links below to learn how you can greatly reduce the risk of toy-related injuries in your home.


Choosing toys with care. Keep in mind the child's age, interests and skill level. Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.

Make sure that all directions or instructions are clear -- to you, and, when appropriate, to the child. Plastic wrappings on toys should be discarded at once before they become deadly playthings.

Be a label reader. Look for and heed age recommendations, such as "Not recommended for children under three". Look for other safety labels including: "Flame retardant/Flame resistant" on fabric products and "Washable/hygienic materials" on stuffed toys and dolls.


Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. A damaged or dangerous toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.

Edges on wooden toys that might have become sharp or surfaces covered with splinters should be sanded smooth. When repainting toys and toy boxes, avoid using leftover paint, unless purchased recently, since older paints may contain more lead than new paint, which is regulated by CPSC. Examine all outdoor toys regularly for rust or weak parts that could become hazardous.


Teach children to put their toys safely away on shelves or in a toy chest after playing to prevent trips and falls.

Toy boxes, too, should be checked for safety. Use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air. Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch or squeeze. See that toys used outdoors are stored after play -- rain or dew can rust or damage a variety of toys and toy parts creating hazards.


New toys intended for children under eight years of age should, by regulation, be free of sharp glass and metal edges.

With use, however, older toys may break, exposing cutting edges.


Older toys can break to reveal parts small enough to be swallowed or to become lodged in a child's windpipe, ears or nose. The law bans small parts in new toys intended for children under three. This includes removable small eyes and noses on stuffed toys and dolls, and small, removable squeakers on squeeze toys.


Toy caps and some noisemaking guns and other toys can produce sounds at noise levels that can damage hearing. The law requires the following label on boxes of caps producing noise above a certain level: "WARNING -- Do not fire closer than one foot to the ear. Do not use indoors." Caps producing noise that can injure a child's hearing are banned.


Toys with long strings or cords may be dangerous for infants and very young children. The cords may become wrapped around an infant's neck, causing strangulation. Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons in cribs or playpens where children can become entangled. Remove crib gyms for the crib when the child can pull up on hands and knees; some children have strangled when they fell across crib gyms stretched across the crib.


Toys which have been broken may have dangerous points or prongs. Stuffed toys may have wires inside the toy which could cut or stab if exposed. A CPSC regulation prohibits sharp points in new toys and other articles intended for use by children under eight years of age.


Projectiles -- guided missiles and similar flying toys -- can be turned into weapons and can injure eyes in particular. Children should never be permitted to play with adult lawn darts or other hobby or sporting equipment that have sharp points. Arrows or darts used by children should have soft cork tips, rubber suction cups or other protective tips intended to prevent injury. Check to be sure the tips are secure. Avoid those dart guns or other toys which might be capable of firing articles not intended for use in the toy, such as pencils or nails.


Keep toys designed for older children out of the hands of little ones. Follow labels that give age recommendations -- some toys are recommended for older children because they may be hazardous in the hands of a younger child. Teach older children to help keep their toys away from younger brothers and sisters.

Even balloons, when uninflated or broken, can choke or suffocate if young children try to swallow them. More children have suffocated on uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.


Electric toys that are improperly constructed, wired or misused can shock or burn. Electric toys must meet mandatory requirements for maximum surface temperatures, electrical construction and prominent warning labels. Electric toys with heating elements are recommended only for children over eight years old. Children should be taught to use electric toys properly, cautiously and under adult supervision.


Infant toys, such as rattles, squeeze toys, and teethers, should be large enough so that they cannot enter and become lodged in an infant's throat.


The following tips will help consumers choose appropriate toys:

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards to younger children.
  • For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard.
  • Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
  • For all children under age 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
  • Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
  • Be a label reader. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide.
  • Check instructions for clarity. They should be clear to you, and when appropriate, to the child.
  • Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys, which can cause suffocation, before they become deadly playthings.

Safety Links On This Topic

Sources: The safety tips in this section were compiled from the following great internet resources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (