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.
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:
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:
CAUTION: DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO PLAY ON THIS MECHANIZED FURNITURE OR OPERATE THE MECHANISM. LEG REST FOLDS DOWN ON CLOSING SO THAT A CHILD COULD POSSIBLY BE INJURED. ALWAYS LEAVE IN AN UPRIGHT AND CLOSED POSITION. KEEP HANDS AND FEET CLEAR OF MECHANISM. ONLY THE OCCUPANT SHOULD OPERATE IT.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
CPSC offers the following general suggestions for selection, safe use, and maintenance of gas, wood, kerosene and electric space heaters:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Regardless of the method you use to heat your home, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission encourages you to:
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:
Sources: The safety tips in this section were compiled from the following great internet resources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov)