News in 2003

In addition to providing information pertaining to our organization, KID provides brief updates on current children's product safety information and events. For more frequent news, visit KID's blog.

Contents of this Issue

A safer portable crib design

December 2003 A new safer portable crib could be available sooner then you think. As part of KID’s Teach Early Safety Testing (TEST), KID worked with four engineering seniors at the University of Michigan to develop a safer portable crib. The top rails of the students’ crib eliminate the downward V-shape design that can collapse creating a strangulation hazard that has killed at least sixteen children. As part of the project, the students reviewed Federal and voluntary safety standards, previous incidents and current crib designs. The students are currently applying for a provisional patent, which will protect their design as they refine it.

Special thanks to Underwriters Laboratories Inc. for helping to fund Teach Early Safety Testing (TEST).

Unanchored soccer goal kills 6-year-old

October 3 2003 In early October, a six-year-old boy from Vernon Hills, Illinois was killed when a soccer goal collapsed on top of him fracturing his skull. Read ABC coverage This is just one of many deaths and serious injuries caused by soccer goals that are not anchored in the ground. Daniel’s Task Force for Safer Soccer Goals reports that there have been 27 deaths and 49 serious injuries due to soccer goals from 1973 to 2003. The typical tip-over incident happens when a child or young adult climbs on or hangs from the crossbar of a soccer goal which is not anchored, although in some incidents the unanchored goal was blown onto the victim by a gust of wind. Read the Consumer Product Safety Commissions suggestions to keep soccer goals safe.

KID releases A False Sense of Security Report

2003 October 10 On October 10, 2003, KID released A False Sense of Security: Recall Histories of Leading Children’s Manufacturers (1993-2003). This report focuses on the recall histories of major children’s product brand names over the past ten years. Parents often assume that popular brand names are safe. However, as the report shows, major brands can have poor safety records. Companies like Cosco, Graco, Evenflo, and Playskool have high injury and recall rates. In the past ten years, Graco products have caused 11 deaths and Kolcraft products are responsible for 7 deaths. Without mandatory safety testing, any children’s products, regardless of brand name, can prove dangerous. Ben Edmunds of the Coalition for Consumer Rights joined Nancy Cowles and Kate Grady to announce the findings of the report at the press release. The release was covered by Telemundo, Fox UPN, CLTV, WBEZ, Illinois New Network, and the Chicago Sun Times.

Warning label issued instead of recall for portable Graco crib

September 2003 As KID reported in our January 2003 Email Alert, 13-month-old Elizabeth Davis was killed in a portable crib with a changing table attachment on December 19 of last year. The baby suffocated between the crib and the changing table. This month CPSC and the crib’s manufacturer, Graco, stopped short of a recall of the product and announced new safety instructions and warning labels for the product. Parents and caregivers using this type of product should carefully review the instruction manual and warnings and remove all attachments prior to use as a playpen or crib. Elizabeth’s story appears in KID’s fall newsletter Action out next month.

Infant and Toddler Durable Product Safety Act Introduced in House

July 25 2003 On Friday July 25, 2003, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois introduced the Infant and Toddler Durable Product Safety Act (HR 2911) in the House of Representatives. Her statement of introduction can be found here. If passed, the Act would help to prevent dangerous children’s products from getting to the market by setting mandatory standards and requiring independent testing of all durable infant and toddler products before they are sold. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. You can find the bill summary, text and co-sponsors on the Library of Congress Thomas website.

Right now there are 13 co-sponsors; our goal is to see 60 co-sponsors by the time the bill is heard in committee. Current co-sponsors include:

  • Congressman Baird (WA)
  • Congresswoman Carson (IN)
  • Congresswoman Davis (CA)
  • Congressman Davis (IL)
  • Congresswoman DeLauro (CT)
  • Congressman Emanuel (IL)
  • Congressman Lynch (MA)
  • Congressman Moran (VA)
  • Congresswoman Norton (DC)
  • Congressman Owens (NY)
  • Congressman Payne (NJ)
  • Congressman Ross (AR)
  • Congresswoman Schakowsky (IL)
  • Congressman Schiff (CA)

The passage of this bill would be a huge step forward in the fight for children’s product safety. Undoubtedly, many injuries would be prevented and lives saved. Please contact your congressional representative and find out their position on HR 2911 as well as their willingness to join the list of co-sponsors. Contact information can be found on the United States House of Representatives website or in your local phone book.

Record Settlement Reached in Portable Crib Death Case

July 18 2003 On Friday, July 18, the family of Jared Adams announced that a $2.6 million settlement has been reached in the lawsuit against Evenflo Co., the manufacturer of the portable crib that killed the baby. In 1997, Jared died at age 8 1/2 months when the hinge on the top rail of his crib collapsed and crushed his chest. To date, this is the largest settlement in an infant death case and does not include any secrecy agreement. At the time of Jared’s death, the crib had killed two other infants. As discovered through the lawsuit, Evenflo was aware of the two deaths as well as many other reports of collapsing siderails but had done nothing to remove the deadly cribs from the market.

“They knew. They definitely knew,” said Pam Adams, Jared’s mother and a Kids In Danger Family Advisory Committee member. As a result of Jared Adams death, the company recalled the Happy Camper portable crib as well as the Happy Cabana and Kiddie Camper models. 1.2 million portable cribs of these models were sold between 1989 and 1997. However, unlike other companies, Evenflo simply supplies hinge covers that must be attached and removed each time the crib is moved, rather than replacing the product or providing a refund. There have been 15 known deaths of children in portable cribs of this design when the rails collapsed and the infant was trapped in the V-shape of the rails.

Because so many of these cribs were sold in the 1990′s, it is imperative that parents check to make sure no crib of this type is in use in their home or childcare. As with all children’s products, parents should consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for recalls of cribs and playyards.

Warning About Use of Sleep Positioners and Wedges

July 1 2003 If you believe some of the claims on packaging of sleep positioners and wedges, you might think these products help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by keeping the baby positioned on its back or side. But the First Candle/SIDS Alliance warns parents that it is no different than other soft bedding materials and pillows and should not be in the crib with babies. Judy and Mark Sage lost their twin 2 month old son Andrew in January 2002 when he suffocated on the Graco 2-in-1 Sleep Positioner in his crib. The Sages have alerted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to the death and they are conducting an investigation.

Like most children’s products, there are no mandatory standards or testing for these positioning devices and no voluntary standards exist either. The best advice of pediatricians and others is to place healthy babies to sleep on their backs and avoid loose or soft bedding in the crib. According to Dr. Bradley Thach in July 2002 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, “baby stores sell wedges to help keep an infant on her side, but the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t endorse them. The wedges act like pillows and block oxygen.”

Recall of Lamaze Toys with Lead Paint Surprises Area Lead Abatement Advocates

June 25 2003 The April 4 recall of the Lamaze Flower Stroller Wrap and Lamaze Soft Bead Buddies shocked the Chicago lead abatement community. These toys are manufactured by Learning Curve, who has a good reputation for toys that stimulate cognitive development — one of the things stunted by lead poisoning.

Children’s advocates including Jerome Stermer of Voices for Illinois Children, Amy Zimmerman of Children’s Health and Education Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Kids In Danger signed a letter to Curt Stoelting and Peter Henseler of the Learning Curve asking for a meeting to discuss how to make this an effective recall; how to increase the public awareness of the dangers of lead and how to avoid such hazardous mistakes in the future. There has been no response to date from the company. For information, contact Amy Zimmerman. For more information on lead, visit www.chicagolead.org. Read the May 16th letter to Messrs. Stoetling and Henseler of RC2.

KID Represents Consumer Interests at CPSC Recall Effectiveness Forum

May 21 2003 KID Executive Director Nancy Cowles traveled to Bethesda, Maryland last week to attend a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sponsored meeting on recall effectiveness.

The theme of the meeting was “Motivating Consumers to Respond to Recalls.” CPSC gathered a group of public relations and marketing professionals to address this question. They came up with many creative ideas and spoke of the need to develop targeted messages about recalls; most felt a broadcast message was ineffective in reaching the intended consumers. Given CPSC’s lack of regulatory authority, it is unclear if they will be able to require manufacturers to implement more effective recall outreach campaigns. Consumers groups were not on the panel, but were allowed to ask questions or make comments at the end of the day. KID spoke of the need to test products before they are sold and to reach out to parents through pre-established relationships such as health care and childcare. Other consumer groups attending were the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer’s Union, SAFE KIDS, and the Danny Foundation.

Public Officials Honored at Best Friend Award Night

May 19 2003 KID held its annual Best Friend Award Night, on May 5, 2003 in Chicago. Approximately 115 guests joined us at Monsoon to honor three public officials who have advocated for children’s product safety on the local, state and national levels.

The 2003 Best Friend Awards were presented by KID Co-Founders Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar and KID Executive Director Nancy Cowles to Caroline O. Shoenberger, Chicago Commissioner of Consumer Services, Carol Ronen, Illinois State Senator, and Jan Schakowsky, U.S. Representative. Both Congresswoman Schakowsky and Commissioner Shoenberger spoke compellingly about their dedication to children’s product safety and plans to continue to pave the way for safer children’s products. Kate Sachnoff of the Early Childhood Network of Edgewater and Rogers Park accepted the award on behalf of Senator Ronen who could not attend. The event gave KID an excellent opportunity to salute the work of our 2003 Best Friends, celebrate our accomplishments over the past five years, and remember Danny Keysar and other victims of dangerous children’s products. We are pleased that this year’s fundraiser also helped increase KID’s profile in the community by alerting many more individuals about our mission to protect children. NBC 5 in Chicago showed a report of the event on their 10:00 news that evening.

Thank you to all who supported KID’s Best Friend Award Night through ticket sales, individual donations, advertisements in our event program book and silent auction purchases. The event was a great success: revenues exceeded $20,000, a 23% increase from last year’s fundraiser. Proceeds from the Best Friend Award Night directly benefit KID’s vital work to protect children by improving children’s product safety.

2002 Children’s Product Recalls Show Need for Stronger Safety System

February 19 2003 KID released a new report today detailing the danger to children from recalled juvenile products. A Minefield of Danger: Children’s Product Recalls in 2002 reviews all children’s products recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) last year. Over 11 million individual items may cause serious injury or death to children.

A Minefield of Danger finds that of 210 products recalled by the CPSC in 2002, 90 were items intended for use by or care of children (43%). Moreover, children’s products caused half of all injuries from products recalled by the CPSC in 2002.

To respond to the report’s findings, KID is announcing new education and awareness campaigns. Don’t Learn About Recalls from Your Child is KID’s new workshop package that organizations, licensing agencies and parent groups can use to educate themselves about the children’s product safety system. Click here to download an order form for the workshop package or related flyer.

Test It Now! is a grassroots awareness campaign for children’s product safety that is working to move manufacturers and the government closer to mandatory standards and safety testing for durable children’s products.

Visit our publications page for a copy of the report and a related fact sheet. Click here to read the report press release.

Warning: Arizona Baby Dies in Portable Crib with Changing Table Attachment

January 22 2003 On December 19, 2002 a 13-month-old Arizona girl was killed in a portable crib with a changing table attachment. It was a newly purchased item and the family was not aware of any warning not to use the portable crib with the changing table in place. The baby suffocated between the crib and the changing table. Parents and caregivers using this type of product should carefully review the instruction manual and warnings or remove all attachments prior to use as a playpen or crib.

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