Monday, June 28, 2010

Consumer groups mark beginning of new era in recall effectiveness

Washington, D.C.— As of today, many durable infant and toddler products, including cribs, playyards, strollers and high chairs are required to contain a product registration card allowing consumers to easily register their product with the manufacturer. This will give manufacturers crucial information necessary to directly contact consumers in the event of a recall or other product safety issues.

The requirements for the product registration cards and an online registration program are contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The section of the bill is called the Danny Keysar Child Safety Notification Act. Danny, whose parents founded Kids In Danger, died in 1998 when the portable crib he slept in at child care collapsed, strangling him. The crib had been recalled five years earlier, but no one at the child care, including the mom who donated the crib, had heard of the recall.

In Congressional testimony in 2004, Danny’s mother, Linda Ginzel, testified, “after Danny died, many people asked why the original owner hadn’t sent in the registration card. If she had done so, they reasoned, the company would have been able to notify her. The only problem is that there was no registration card included with this product. Why aren’t manufacturers required to include registration cards, especially for durable children’s products like cribs? If they had done so, my son would be alive today.”

Eighteen types of durable infant and toddler products are required to have product registration cards. Starting now, full-size cribs and non-full-size cribs; toddler beds; high chairs, booster chairs, and hook-on chairs; bath seats; gates and other enclosures for confining a child; play yards; stationary activity centers; infant carriers; strollers; walkers; swings; and bassinets and cradles must include the card. In six months, the compliance date for the six products the final rule added to the listed products -- children's folding chairs, changing tables, infant bouncers, infant bath tubs, bed rails and infant slings -- will begin.

“While it will take time for the product registration cards to be present in every new product as required by the law, parents can start now to register their products online with the manufacturers, stated Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety & Senior Counsel at Consumer Federation of America. “The effective date of the legislation is for products manufactured after today, leaving a short window while current inventory is still sold. But most major manufacturers have already started taking registration online.”

“Registration cards for child safety seats have been required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for many years,” stated Don Mays, Senior Director Product Safety & Technical Policy at Consumers Union. “Because of this requirement, the recall response rate for child safety seats is far greater than for all other durable infant and toddler products.”

“Parents and caregivers should make certain to return these cards. It is often the only way you will hear of a recall and know that your product is affected,” says Elizabeth Hitchcock, Public Health Advocate at US PIRG. “The regulations prohibit the information from being used for any purpose other than contacting consumers in the event of a recall. It is strictly for safety notifications. The registration can also be completed online.”

“Most recalled products remain in consumers’ homes and in use for too long after the recall because consumers never heard about the recall,” said Nancy Cowles, executive director, Kids In Danger. “This new measure will allow consumers who purchased or own the product to get accurate news of a recall quickly, along with the information they need to comply with the recall.”

Consumer groups will be monitoring the implementation of this vital section of the CPSIA. If consumers have problems with registering their products, they should contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or any of the groups listed.

Consumer Federation of America

Kids In Danger

Consumers Union


National Research Center for Women & Children

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More than 2.2 million cribs recalled after dozens of injuries

Please, despite the frequency, don't become indifferent to hearing about crib recalls. Each recall represents thousands of cribs currently being used in homes across America -- putting millions of babies at risk every night.

Today's announcement of 7 (!) more manufacturers whose cribs have proven unsafe is just the last in a long line of recalls -- and don't be surprised if more recalls are still to come.

Some notes on today's recalls:

  • The danger on these cribs isn't just drop-side failures. They also involve several with fixed side rail dangers and mattress support problems. And these are just a portion of the almost 10 million cribs recalled in the last four years, so whatever you do, check your crib against the recall list today.
  • While CPSC says the recalls represent 2.2 million cribs, one of the recalls just lists the number of cribs recalled as "unknown." With a major manufacturer and a ten year span, that is a substantial "unknown." This particular company was recently bought by another: perhaps poor record keeping can be blamed in part?? Another recall just notes 'all' of the companies cribs using wooden stabilizer bars are included without giving a number. So perhaps the total number is closer to 3 million.
  • The only bright note is that if you have a Childcraft recalled crib, you will get a rebate coupon to use toward the purchase of a new crib rather than the immobilizer given out by the other firms. KID believes in cases of sleep environment recalls, refunds or replacement products should be given, rather than a hardware repair kit -- after all in most instances, it is the hardware that failed in the first place.
So, what should parents do who have drop-side cribs? Check out this CPSC blog post and video or our earlier post on drop-side cribs for more information. In general, avoid drop-side cribs when possible and don't pass them down to family or friends.

Thankfully, things are changing in the crib world. Due to pressure from consumers and the media, a re-invigorated CPSC and intensive work by everyone involved, ASTM's new crib standard includes more stringent testing for durability and a ban on the dangerous drop-side design. By the end of 2010, CPSC vows to have a strong mandatory standard in place.

Cribs are the one product intended to be safe enough to leave a baby unattended all night (once they sleep that long anyway!). The new standard can't come soon enough.

Specific recalls links:

Childcraft Fixed Side: 4 entrapments
Childcraft Drop-side: "unknown", 7 incidents, 2 injuries
Jardine: 130,000, 47 incidents, 10 injuries
Evenflo: 750,000, 31 incidents, 12 injuries or falls
Million Dollar Baby: 156,000, 43 incidents, 11 injuries or falls
LaJobi: 306,000, 40 incidents, 1 injury
Delta: at least 747,000, 76 incidents, 6 injuries or entrapments
Simmons: 50,000, 30 incidents, 5 entrapments or injuries

2.2 million more cribs recalled

More later, but for now, check your baby's crib!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chicago to Retailers: Tell customers where to get help with car seat installation

Perhaps you've seen or heard the research that most car seats are installed incorrectly or just know from your own experience that it's not easy getting that seat installed so it is at the correct angle and doesn't move at all.

Many parents know to get help -- either through, local police or fire departments, NHTSA, or a service such as Safety Squad. But other parents either don't know they can find help or don't think they need it -- leading to that high number of incorrectly installed seats.

The Chicago City Council recently made it easier for Chicago area consumers to get that information. A recent ordinance introduced by Alderman James Balcer requires retailers to post information on installation services near the car seats in the store. This will hopefully send more people to get assistance with the task, resulting in safer children.

But we hope that manufacturers also begin to offer more information on installation in their materials as well. Or, here's an idea - let's come up with a system for installation that doesn't take a four-day training to understand!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bayside Furnishings issues second recall on trundle beds with toy chests

Bayside Furnishings is issuing a second recall on the Pirates of the Caribbean youth beds sold at Costco. These beds are designed to look like boats and have toy chests in the 'bow' of the boat, as well as the 'stern' or headboard.

Previously the beds, along with other similar ones, had been recalled after the death of a 21 month old boy when the toy chest lid came down on his neck. The company offered a repair kit with replacement lid supports.

Today's recall is for the headboard storage chest. Another preschooler was injured when his head became entrapped in that space. The new repair will permanently close that headboard storage area.

For years there have been requirements for lid supports for chests to avoid entrapment. Just last month, Target recalled a storage chest after two children were injured.

Our advice? Check your home for any storage chests. Make sure the lids stay in the position you put them when raised and do not close by themselves. Consider uncovered containers or toy boxes with very light lids that are completely removable for children's rooms. If you have a chest that closes by itself, with a heavy lid, report it to the CPSC.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

CPSC approves mandatory baby walker standard

When the CPSIA passed and was signed in 2008, one of the biggest changes was the section (named after KID's founders' son Danny Keysar) that required mandatory standards for durable infant and toddler products. From the time of Danny's death in 1998, his parents and KID have repeatedly said that what is needed is independent testing to strong mandatory standards before a product can be sold. Parents assume that when they go to the store to buy a nursery product, someone, somewhere has made sure it is safe. With these new standards and testing requirements in place, that is starting to be true.

So following the bath seat standard announced last month, the CPSC now has approved a new mandatory standard for baby walkers, improving the voluntary standard with additional requirements for stair testing and parking brake testing.

As they pointed out in their statement, the voluntary standard had already reduced injuries from falls in walkers significantly. Unlike other standards, CPSC had already been recalling walkers that didn't meet the voluntary standard.

But even with this standard in place and safer walkers, KID, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and others, recommends against their use. There are developmental issues as well as lingering safety concerns. When a child can move much more quickly and reach higher than their age would indicate, they can still find danger -- reaching a hot pot on the stove, falling down stairs (still happens -- just take a look at the injury data from CPSC), or getting into other trouble. Tummy time on the floor, a stationary entertainer or other options are safer.

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