Are Your Children’s Products Safe?

KID Safety products
By Karen Sheehan, MD

I don’t know why injury prevention people like me get a bad rap. I can be fun too, even though I say things like “wear your seat belt,” “don’t open your window more than 4 inches,” and “look left-right-left before you cross the street.”

The truth is I don’t even like those sorts of messages, even though I know if implemented, they can save lives. The reason I find them unsatisfying is because you can do the right thing 99 times out of a 100 but you forget just once, a tragedy may occur. I’d rather focus on environmental and/or engineering changes so if you do something once — or better yet the product comes to your home built with safety in mind — everyone is protected from the start.

What I was shocked to learn, however, is that many children’s nursery products aren’t adequately tested for safety before they are released to the public. Can you imagine? Parents in good faith buy products such as a portable crib or a stroller only to find out after their healthy infant has died in a consumer product that had inadequate safety testing performed prior to marketing.

Kids In Danger (KID) was formed after 18-month-old Danny Keysar was strangled to death at his licensed daycare when his portable crib collapsed, trapping his neck in the “V” of its folded rails in 1998. Soon after Danny’s death, his parents, Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar, discovered that the Playskool Travel-Lite portable crib had been recalled in 1993. However, no one — including Danny’s parents, his caregiver or a state inspector who visited the licensed childcare facility about a week prior to Danny’s death — was notified of this recall. Danny was this crib’s fifth victim. Danny’s parents founded KID when they learned that Danny’s death was not an accident, but the result of a flawed consumer product system which failed to keep children safe.

As it turns out, children’s products are recalled more than twice a week. Thus, there is a good chance that you have a recalled product. So it is important for you to check. You can go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to search for recalls or report unsafe products. This website is part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) which improves the safety of products sold in the United States. A portion of the bill is named in Danny Keysar’s honor; it requires mandatory standards and testing for durable infant and toddler products, product registration cards and a ban on the sale or lease of unsafe cribs.

Woody Allen has a famous line about not wanting to join a club that would have him as a member. KID’s Family Voices is a group of parents whose children have been injured or killed by unsafe products; it is definitely a club which no parent wants to be a member. However, thanks to these parents’ dedication to prevent other needless injuries and deaths, all of our children are a little less in danger.

Dr. Karen Sheehan is a general pediatrician and a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. After taking care of kids who fell from windows, or were shot, or were hit by cars, it occurred to her that it would be better to prevent such injuries in the first place. She now focuses on prevention and maximizing a child’s health and well being.

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