Archive for the ‘CPSC’ Category

Newest Word on Crib Safety: Ban the Bumpers?

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Which crib bedding would you choose? Aesthetic or safe?

In the newest topic regarding crib safety, Maryland is considering regulations to ban the sale of crib bumpers. For many years, more and more emphasis has been placed on infants sleeping in safe cribs without any additional “stuff” in them. This has included the elimination of lots of former nursery staples. Baby blankets, stuffed animals, pillows and other loose items have been banned from the crib by safety experts for years. As requirements for cribs have required slats that are closer together, the utility of using a bumper to help a child from getting stuck between crib slats has been eliminated. More recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has developed even newer crib safety standards, including eliminating the use of drop-sides, and warned against the use of sleep positioners. Yet, despite the advice to put babies to sleep only on their backs in cribs empty of everything except a well fitting mattress and fitted sheet, many parents and caregivers persist in using other items in cribs. Now, with an increasing number of deaths associated with crib bumpers, Maryland is considering a stronger stance.

Danger of Crib Bumpers

The concern about crib bumpers is that there have been infant deaths associated with suffocation or strangulation and the use of crib bumpers. Some of the deaths are directly attributable to the bumpers (for instance a child found with their head wrapped in the ties of the bumper or their face pressed into the side of the bumper), while others are only potentially related to the bumper use but not definitively so (for instance, children whose death are classified as SIDS, but where bumpers were in use in the crib at the time of death and may have been a contributing factor in the death). This makes the discussion of the dangers muddy – with manufacturers claiming that bumpers are safe and advocates warning against their use to protect against suffocation.

Potential Ban on Sale of Bumpers

When the Baltimore Sun reported on the potential regulations, they mentioned something that gave me pause. They explained that if Dr. Sharfstein, secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, does decide to regulate this issue, the regulations will impact only the sale, not the use of the bumpers. While this makes sense from a policy perspective, the goal is not to punish parents who may not be aware of the safety risks, and from a enforceability perspective, the state cannot possibly enforce a regulation that requires knowledge of whether bumpers are being used in individual homes, the regulation of the sale of the item is going to have some drawbacks.

Will a State Ban Save Lives?

So here are my questions. Will regulations against the sale of these bumpers in Maryland make any difference in saving lives? In this day of internet shopping and wide availability of items through catalogues and easy interstate travel, are Maryland families going to forgo the crib bumper because they cannot be purchased in the local baby store, or are they still going to be buying the bumper with a set of nursery items on Amazon or through a national baby store? Will Internet or national companies without a store presence in Maryland be punished for selling a bumper to a person with a Maryland address? If so, then perhaps the word will get out that these items are dangerous and should not be used. If not, will parents even realize that the goal of the regulation is actually to curb the use of the bumpers. Either way, I guess that by decreasing the number of bumpers in Maryland homes, safety will be increased and perhaps over time, awareness will be increased and other states may follow suit.

Getting the Word Out

My other concern is that if there are parents who are still using bumpers, blankets or other items in their babies’ cribs, is the issue one of parent education? Perhaps the real emphasis needs to be on wider parental awareness of the safety issue. There are lots of great resources available to learn how to put infants to sleep safely:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNekf5P9_Yg&feature=youtu.be

Since the early 1990s, the emphasis has been on having infants sleep on their backs. This has lead to a dramatic decrease in SIDS deaths since that time. The “Back to Sleep” campaign began in 1994 and continues to this day.  However, when reading a 2005 paper from the AAP, I was surprised to read that SIDS deaths are more likely to occur when a baby who is used to sleeping on their back is placed to sleep on their stomach. This suggests that education needs to be of all potential caregivers since an occasional babysitter, grandparent or child care provider who is unfamiliar with the recommendations and the child’s normal sleep position may place the child to sleep on their stomach and cause real risk.

AAP has made many recommendations since 2005 including that children sleep in cribs with only a fitted sheet and without any additional soft bedding. These recommendations have varied somewhat over time on the use of bumpers and sleep positioners. However, the overall advice seems to remain the same – eliminate all soft bedding items. Despite these recommendations, there are still images in popular media of nurseries complete with cribs with soft bedding.

What changes are still needed?

What changes are needed to get the word out? Do you think that there needs to be a stronger effort to change the marketing images for infant products? Do you think that a ban on the sale of bumpers will have a significant impact on child safety? What about an education campaign focusing on caregivers, grandparents and day care providers?

Related Posts:

Over Two Million Cribs Recalled…What About Yours?

Infant Safety – drop-down crib hazard; CPSC issues recall

Generation 2 Worldwide and “ChildESIGNS” Drop Side Crib Brands Recalled; Three Infant Deaths Reported

Consumer Product Safety Commission vows to crack down on defective cribs – washingtonpost.com

 

Images from: sidscenter.org, potterybarnkids.com

The Hidden Dangers of Button Batteries

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Sunday evening, immediately after putting our two year old to bed, my wife and I watched 60 Minutes and settled in to begin to enjoy what we thought would be a ‘relaxing’ evening.  Unfortunately, one of the lead stories that the program featured involved the dangers of ‘button batteries’.  These batteries are especially dangerous to small children, because, as I learned from the show, the electrical current of the battery, once stuck in the esophagus, literally burns through the tissue surrounding it, causing holes in the esophagus.  They are also, unfortunately, very easy to get stuck in a child’s throat.

My mind starting racing; “OK, what products do we have in the house that are powered by button batteries?”  My concern was well-justified, as the vast majority of these tragic incidents occur to children under the age of four.  Scouring the internet this morning, I found several articles warning the parents of small children about dangers they should heed.  Sadly, I also saw blogs from the parents, in which they recount how they lost their child because of such a tragedy.  These products are not the subject of recalls, mind you.  These are batteries found in everyday products that you may have in your home.  The damage can be permanent and may effect your child’s ability to eat and drink permanently.

I found a warning on-line from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), going all the way back to March of 1983, almost 30 years ago:

Technologic advances in electronic miniaturization have increased the availability of miniature (button) batteries in homes..in watches, calculators, cameras, hearing aids, and games. Although the vast majority of these button batteries, when accidentally swallowed, will pass through the person without any problem, occasional severe complications and even fatalities have been reported. Batteries may become lodged in the esophagus or intestine, slowly leaking alkaline electrolytes and causing an internal chemical burn.

Battery ingestions are preventable. Important prevention and treatment information is available based on preliminary results of a National Button Battery Ingestion Study conducted by Dr. Toby Litovitz, director of the National Capital Poison Center, of 62 button battery ingestions reported to the National Capital Poison Center in the past 9 months, 59% involved batteries that were left out loose rather than properly discarded or stored; 39% of the batteries were in the product they were intended for, and removed from the product. Half of these batteries were in hearing aids.

Fast forward to the present, and the warnings are all over the place.  In a recent article from examiner.com out of Baltimore, the urgency of getting the button battery out of the child as soon as possible is emphasized, due to how quickly damage can occur to the child’s throat:

The research also found there is only a two hour window to get the batteries out when lodged in the esophagus, which is less time than previously reported. Delayed removal can result in serious injuries such as tissue tears, burning, and internal bleeding .

Where can these batteries be found, and what can we do to help safeguard our children? A recent Reuters article provides us with some guidance:

They warn parents to keep not only loose batteries out of children’s reach, but also the household products that contain the batteries. In about 62 percent of cases where a young child swallowed a button battery, the child fished the battery out of a household item.

For an additional barrier, the researchers advise parents to place strong tape over the battery compartment of all household products.

They urge extra caution with any 20-mm lithium cell batteries, which can be recognized by their imprint codes — usually CR2032, CR2025 or CR2016.

On a final note, another danger is that doctors sometimes misdiagnose the injury, as the symptoms can be non-specific at times:

The current study found that in the majority of fatal or severe injuries, no one had seen the child swallow the battery. And because the symptoms of poisoning are non-specific — such as fever, vomiting, poor appetite and lethargy — doctors often initially misdiagnosed the problem.

Of course, the key is not to let your child get a hold of these ‘button batteries’ to begin with.  We strongly urge you to check your homes for these products and to take the appropriate steps to safeguard your family.  We are also again providing the link for the CPSC, as we have previously done so many times in our website‘s blog, for additional follow-up information.



New National ‘Pool Safely’ Campaign Initiated to Save Children’s Lives

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Approximately a month ago, we featured a blog on our website that dealt with child safety; specifically, safety in and around a pool.  Now, with record high temperatures hitting most of our local areas, we thought it worthwhile to further detail these safety issues and concerns, as more and more of us and our children head for comfort in the area local pools.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has actually done that for us, through a national campaign that they have recently started, entitled ‘Pool Safely’:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today kicks-off the Pool Safely campaign (www.poolsafely.gov), a first-of-its-kind national public education effort to reduce child drownings and non-fatal submersions, and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. At a press conference at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex today, Olympic swimmers Jason Lezak and Janet Evans joined Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the CPSC; U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); and Nancy Baker, mother of Virginia Graeme Baker, to officially launch Pool Safely and release the CPSC’s annual submersion and entrapment reports.

Please note that the campaign is NOT just about pool drownings and submersions; it also focuses on “entrapments”.  Entrapments should not be overlooked because sadly and tragically entrapments occur more frequently than one may think.  An entrapment occurs when a child is literally stuck to the pool floor at or near a drain site, where the suction force is so great, that the child is unable to break free from the suction, thereby causing the child to drown.  The statistics speak for themselves within this year’s memorandum drafted by the CPSC.

The campaign also details preventative measures for parents to take note of and remember, in addition to providing the tragic statistics regarding accidental child drownings:

The Pool Safely campaign will deliver an important and simple message: just adding an extra safety step in and around the water can make all the difference. Your greatest water safety assurance comes from adopting and practicing as many water safety measures as possible, including: barriers that completely surround the pool with self-closing, self-latching gates; staying close, being alert, and watching children at the pool; learning and practicing water safety skills (knowing how to swim and perform CPR); and having the appropriate equipment (compliant drain covers, alarms, barriers and sensors).

We encourage our readers to review all of the links within this article. We sincerely want you to be better aware and prepared as we go through a summer of intense heat.  It looks as if the heat is here to stay for awhile, and pools can be a great source of fun relief, if the proper safety precautions are followed.

Do you have “Recall Fatigue”?

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Early in my foray into blogging, I thought tracking and reporting on recalls would be a worthwhile project. I did the usual setting-up of RSS feeds, email notification of updates and the like. As time passed and my inbox filled with new recall after new recall, I began to wonder – is this really worth it? Is anyone really paying attention to these seemingly endless postings about a defective this and a life-altering that? After a few months, I decided that maybe we should only be reporting on the important recalls. Well, what’s important? Is it the crib that severs limbs or kills babies? Is it the food product that poisons a host of people? Perhaps it’s that nice pull-over for toddlers that can choke them. Of course, that piece of clothing that can burst into flames has to make the list.  Week in, week out – they came rolling in and out on the blogosphere some went. I started identifying less and less of these recalls as newsworthy, but I’m not sure why I did that. One reason was clear – no one seemed to be reading what we posted on the recalls – well maybe a hit here or a hit there.

Then on Friday I came across an article in the Washington Post that brought a good deal of clarity to the apparent disinterest of the public and our readers to product recalls – “recall fatigue.”

Lyndsey Layton, a staff reporter for the Post, must have wondered about the same issues bothering me – thus her article entitled “Officials Worry About Consumers Lost Among the Recalls.” I commend it to your reading. Putting the recall overload into perspective, she writes:

McDonald’s asked customers to return 12 million glasses emblazoned with the character Shrek. Kellogg’s warned consumers to stop eating 28 million boxes of Froot Loops and other cereals. Campbell Soup asked the public to return 15 million pounds of SpaghettiOs, and seven companies recalled 2 million cribs.

Then comes the most telling line – “And that was just a fraction of the products recalled in the United States last month alone.”

Ms. Layton reports that “one recent study found that 12 percent of Americans who knew they had recalled food at home ate it anyway. After Hasbro recalled the iconic Easy Bake Oven in 2007 because about two dozen children had gotten fingers stuck in the door, the toymaker received 249 more reports of injuries over the following six months. One 5-year-old girl was so seriously burned that doctors had to partially amputate a finger.”

Are Americans just bleary eyed, immune, overwhelmed in today’s endless stream of information? Do stories of recalls like the Toyota fiasco so dominate the news that we lose sight of the less publicized recall stories? What is it that would let a parent ignore the dangers to their child from a life-threatening or maiming recalled product? Do they just not know about it? That may be true for some, I would imagine, but how does that answer the mind-boggling statistic cited by Ms. Layton that 88% of Americans who knew they had recalled food products in their home – ate the food anyway?! What percentage of parents knew they had a dangerous crib and let their child sleep in it anyway? You know that the vast majority care deeply for their child’s safety. So how on earth could they simply ignore the danger warnings?

Ms. Layton suggests the problem is twofold: “Some people never learn that a product they own has been recalled, and others know they have a recalled product but don’t think anything bad will happen.”

Craig Wilson, assistant vice president for quality assurance and food safety at Costco says, “We call it the Chicken Little syndrome. If you keep shouting at the wind — ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’ — people literally become immune to the message.” He believes the system in place simply doesn’t work.

The “system” – in case you were not aware – includes a government maintained website, http://www.recalls.gov, offering information about all kinds of recalls, and consumers can subscribe for e-mail alerts about specific products. That’s what we subscribed to and which we still track. Check it out for a week or two (hopefully longer if you can get over the ‘fatigue factor’). You’ll see what we are talking about – you’ll be amazed at the number of product recalls. Oh, just in case you don’t have time to boot-up your desktop or laptop, a new mobile version for your smartphone was just announced.

Whether it’s information overload, the ‘it won’t happen to me” syndrome, the “Chicken Little syndrome – people simply need to start paying more attention! Sure – you can say, what are the odds that this will happen to my family? Well – when it happens to YOU or YOUR FAMILY, the odds just became 100%.

What is the best – or at least a ‘better’ way to get people to pay attention and take heed of these warnings? Any psychologists or maybe people with just good common sense have any good ideas? Do you care about product recalls? Do you want to hear about them more often or less often? Since we are an internet and TV society – is this the way to go? Maybe flash warnings like we get for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods? Oops – the remote control’s fast forward might kill that approach.

So what is the answer? Is there an answer? Should we keep blogging on these recalls? I’m not sure anymore. Ms. Layton’s article makes me at least wonder – if one person gets the message and one life is saved or one person not maimed – maybe it is worth it. On the other hand, if we report on it, are we adding to “recall fatigue”?


With the Fourth of July comes Fireworks. Be Smart!

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Many people enjoy watching the beautiful fireworks displays that accompany the July 4th Holiday.  Others decide to set-off the fireworks themselves.  Some people do both.  An article posted earlier this week at Springfield, Missouri’s News-Leader.com reminds us how dangerous lighting fireworks can be:

Those fireworks injuries include burns and injuries to hands, fingers and even eyes at this time of year.

Some burns caused by fireworks are minor; others are serious third-degree burns.

Fireworks burns may be small, but they can go deep, said physician Ted McMurry, medical director of St. John’s Emergency Trauma Center.

A Roman candle, for instance, “shoots a little fireball” that can penetrate clothing and skin.

Care providers have also seen eyes burned or injured by foreign bodies from fireworks, or they’ve had to remove fingers or hands ravaged by explosions.

“Typically, they come in with partially amputated fingers or a hand and the surgeons have to amputate (the rest),” said Debbie Mikkelson, nursing director at St. John’s Burn Center.

What causes this to happen?  Just plain carelessness for one. Recklessness or becoming injured when attempting to re-light fireworks are other reasons.  Another factor is alcohol. Kind of common sense, isn’t it? alcohol combined with fireworks can quickly turn a fun-filled family event into tragedy:

Booze may fuel such behavior, even in adults.

“I think as much as anything it’s risky behavior, but quite honestly the other thing that sometimes drives risky behavior is alcohol,” McMurry said. “Alcohol impairs our judgment so people will do things they might not otherwise do.”

It also slows reflexes, he added, so that drinkers lighting fireworks might not be able to move away from fuses as quickly as normal.

Accordingly, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has listed fireworks safety recommendations. It has also put a chilling video on YouTube that brings it home quite vividly.  We wish you a happy AND safe Fourth of July Weekend.

Over Two Million Cribs Recalled…What About Yours?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Earlier this week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made a sweeping recall announcement regarding drop-side and other types of cribs:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), with the cooperation of seven firms, is announcing voluntary recalls of more than two million cribs to address drop-side hazards and other hazards that affect the safety of young children. The recalling firms are providing consumers with free repair kits to immobilize the drop sides or other remedies. Do not attempt to fix these cribs with homemade remedies.

We previously highlighted crib recalls in several blogs on our website. This recall also includes some fixed-side cribs.  There are authorized repair kits available from the manufacturers involved.  They include: Child Craft (this firm is out of business, according to the CPSC), Delta Enterprise Corp., Evenflo, Jardine Enterprises, LaJobi, Million Dollar Baby, Simmons Juvenile Products Inc. (SJP).  Consumers should contact these companies directly for more information.

The recall notice from the CPSC also discusses their efforts to make cribs safer overall:

“Cribs should be the safest place in the home for infants and toddlers,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “CPSC is committed to addressing the hazards with cribs and to restoring parents’ confidence that their child will have a safe sleep.”

CPSC continues to actively investigate various cribs for potential drop-side and other hazards as part of a larger effort by the agency to rid the marketplace and homes of unsafe cribs. CPSC staff is also working on a new mandatory standard to make cribs safer, which is targeted for completion in 2010.

The CPSC goes on to state that “incorrect assembly or age-related wear and tear” may cause drop-side crib incidents.  In addition, the CPSC recommends that a crib more than 10 years old should not be used as “many older cribs do not meet current voluntary standards and can have numerous safety problems.”

If you have precious little ones at home, please check your cribs and follow the proper instructions from the CPSC and companies involved.

Product Safety Alert: Children's Giraffe Blanket Recalled Due to Choking Hazard

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Approximately 44,000 giraffe blankets have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), due to the balls on the top of the horns detaching, and posing a choking hazard to small children.  The giraffe blankets are sold exclusively at Target Stores.  The full details on the recall can be found by clicking here.  

The recall states that, thankfully, no injuries have been reported, as of this publication.  The product is imported by Rashti and Rashti out of New York, and details on the recall can be found on their website, as well.  As the CPSC recall notice states “Consumers should immediately take the recalled blankets away from children and contact Rashti & Rashti for a full refund.”

Even though no injuries have been reported, let’s keep it that way! Follow the recommendations even if your child may cry for a bit when you take away their ‘security blanket.’ A sad but safe child sure beats the alternative.

Infant Safety – drop-down crib hazard; CPSC issues recall

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

In February of this year, we reported on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) commitment to crack-down on the defective crib issues that have resulted in multiple deaths of infants on our blog site.  A report just released by the CPSC, which involves a comprehensive review of crib-related fatalities since January 2000 revealed the tragic statistics:  32 deaths since January 2000 and hundreds of related instances related to drop-side detachments in cribs:

In addition to the 32 deaths the CPSC staff associated with the drop-side detachments, CPSC has received an additional 14 reports of infant fatalities due to entrapment in cribs that could be related to a drop side. The information obtained was insufficient for staff to conclusively determine whether or not the drop side was involved. Of the 32 deaths that were analyzed, some occurred in cribs where the drop side detached without caregivers noticing the detachment, while some other deaths occurred after a consumer tried to repair the detached drop side, but the repair ultimately failed.

As a result, the CSPC is issuing a voluntary recall of ALL drop-side cribs, effective June 1, 2010. There will be new improved mandatory standards for cribs as well.  The CPSC announcement also provides cautions regarding older cribs and reminds parents to not use cribs with broken, missing of loose parts.

Let’s hope these new standards save infants from injuries and death!

Evenflo Recalls Top-of-Stair Plus Wood Gates Due to Fall Hazard

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has just announced that they are working in conjunction with Evenflo in regard to a voluntary recall of approximately 183,000 wood gates, used primarily to assist in preventing small children from having access to stairs, where they could fall and sustain serious injuries.  Here is some of the important information in regard to the recall:

Name of product: Evenflo Top-of-Stair™ Plus Wood Gates

Units: About 150,000 in the United States and 33,000 in Canada

Manufacturer: Evenflo Co. Inc. of Miamisburg, Ohio

Hazard: The slats on the gate can break or detach, posing a fall hazard to children.

Incidents/Injuries: Evenflo has received 142 reports of slats breaking and/or detaching from the gate. Three children gained access to stairs. One of those children fell through the gate and down five steps; another fell down one step. Injuries included four children who sustained bumps and bruises to the head and seven children who sustained minor injuries including scratches, scrapes and bruises.

Description: The recall involves Evenflo models 10502 and 10512 Top-of-Stair Plus Wood Gates made from October 2007 through July 2009. The model number can be found on the bottom rail. No other Evenflo model numbers or gates are affected by this recall.

Sold at: Toys “R” Us, Burlington Baby Depot, Kmart and other juvenile product and mass merchandise retailers nationwide in the U.S. and Canada, and on the Web at Amazon.com and other online retailers from October 2007 through March 2010 for about $40.

If you have this product at your home, here is the remedy and consumer contact information:

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the recalled gate and contact Evenflo to obtain a free newer model 10503 or 10513 Top-of-Stair™ Plus Wood replacement gate.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, call Evenflo toll-free at (800) 233-5921 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s Web site at safety.evenflo.com

Graco Recalls Harmony™ High Chairs Due to Fall Hazard

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

On March 18, 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall covering over a million high chairs for babies.

To date, there have been over 450 reports of screws loosening/falling out and/or plastic brackets cracking.  These events may cause the high chair to tip over as a result of becoming unstable.  

Although the high chair is no longer in production, the recall covers Graco Harmony High Chairs that have been sold throughout the country in many well-known department stores.  For the important recall details, go to the following link – product recall details.

There have already been several injuries reported as a result of the fall hazard.  Please also note, as stated on the CSPC’s website, that the recall applies to all Graco Harmony High Chairs.