News in 2004

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

Children’s Product Safety Act to be introduced in more states

December 2004 E Alert Since it first passed in Illinois in 1999, The Children’s Product Safety Act has generated interest in other states as well. It has also been enacted in Michigan, Arkansas, Louisiana, Vermont, Rhode Island and Missouri. It has been introduced in other states over the years as well. Now, Kids In Danger is aware of sponsors for the act in 2005 in Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin and possibly up to six more states. You can view the map of states which have already passed the act, or find out how you can help pass the legislation in your state by visiting Kids In Danger’s State Advocacy page.

Court upholds fines for withholding safety information

November 2004 E Alert The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Diego, Calif affirmed a $300,000 civil penalty against Mirama Enterprises Inc. Mirama, doing business as Aroma Housewares Co., failed to report problems with its electric juicers that shattered and injured consumers. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, companies are required to report potential product hazards. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Chairman, Hal Stratton, said of the ruling, “The Court agreed with CPSC that companies must tell us about potentially dangerous products even before they are found to be defective and that companies are liable for reporting every product they sell that poses a danger to consumers.” While the penalty provision is imperative for consumer safety, many consumer advocates believe that the current cap of $1.65 million limits the effectiveness of the penalty. For many large corporations, the fine can be written off as a small cost of doing business and not an incentive to self-report. KID and other advocates would like to see the penalty cap removed so that the size of the corporation can be taken into account with the penalty.

Congressional Hearing on Children’s Product Safety

October 2004 E Alert Linda Ginzel, KID co-founder and president, was the first to testify following US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) chairman Hal Stratton at a Congressional hearing on October 6. The House Sub-committee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection held an oversight hearing entitled, “Children’s Product Safety: Do Current Standards Provide Enough Protection?”

At the end of Linda’s testimony, it was clear the answer was an emphatic ‘no.’ While Chairman Stratton left prior to the consumer and organizational testimony, Chairman Cliff Stearns and Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky were visibly shaken by the flaws in the current children’s product safety system that had contributed to her son’s death. Linda suggested three things CPSC could do to prevent more deaths: use marketing and advertising to reach purchasers of products, rather than relying solely on the news media, require product registration cards in all children’s products, and notify licensed childcare facilities of all recalls. Any one of these actions would have been enough to prevent Danny’s death. Linda, as well as others, also spoke of the major hurdle to safe products: lack of premarket safety testing.

In addition to Linda Ginzel, testimony was heard from Lisa Lipin whose son Andrew suffered injuries from a yoyo water ball, E. Marla Felcher, author of It’s No Accident: How Corporations Sell Dangerous Baby Products, Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger and Rachel Weintraub, Assistant General Counsel of Consumer Federation of America. Gary Klein spoke on behalf of the Toy Industry of America. Read the testimony of each by clicking on their highlighted names. The full transcript should be available soon at the Subcommittee’s website.

Children’s Product Safety is an International Concern

June 2004 E Alert A recent Sydney Morning Herald five day series on children’s product safety highlights the fact that dangerous children’s products are an international concern. The articles address such issues as manufacturer’s awareness of faulty products and their lack of action. One example the first article in the series cites is that of a Fisher-Price bath seat. The company stopped selling its Stay ‘n’ Play bath seat in 1997, but did not recall those it had already sold. In an email obtained by the Herald, Fisher-Price stated that “we elected to exit the business rather than work to ensure that the product could be manufactured in a way that could be considered safe.” Not only does this series of articles highlight the issues in children’s product safety, but suggests solutions such as new safety standards.

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Resale Round-Up 2004

May 2004 The past 30 days have marked a dramatic increase in recalls, once again CPSC along with product safety organizations will assist resale, consignment, and thrift stores in identifying and pulling previously recalled or banned products from their shelves. Read More.

This is an important task since 70 percent of resale stores sold at least one hazardous product. Children’s products, including children’s jackets and sweatshirts with drawstrings which present a strangulation hazard, and cribs that do not meet federal safety standards, comprise two of the three top dangerous products found. Consumers can do their part by checking their products before bringing them to a resale store or hosting a yard sale.

In Chicago: CPSC and SafeKids Coalition are holding workshops in Chicago for resale shop owners. The first was held on May 10 in Hyde Park and another is scheduled for May 20th on the near Northwest Side. Contact Ashley Gold at Chicagoland SafeKids Coalition for information.

Children’s product recalls rise in April

April 2004 The past 30 days have marked a dramatic increase in recalls, once again highlighting the need for more stringent safety testing. The Tek Nek Toy Corporation recalled over 70,000 ride-on toys after an 18-month-old boy died from aspirating the screw that attaches the steering wheel to the toy. Since the ride-on toys were sold under five model names, check to make sure your child’s ride-on toy was not recalled. It should not take a death to make sure that your child’s products are safe, especially since this is not an isolated incident. In 2003 a 15-month-old had to be rushed to the emergency room where x-rays showed that a screw from his Fisher Price Farm had lodged in his trachea, and had to be removed by emergency surgery. It is always important for parents and caregivers to keep up to date on recalled products, and report any incidents that may occur. Additionally, check your child’s toys for missing or loose pieces to prevent injuries.

Shield booster seats increase chance of injury to children

2004 March Never use a shield-style booster seat, which have a horizontal, padded, pop-down restraint bar that is supposed to replace the protection of a safety belt. A new study in Pediatrics shows that children are at nearly eight times the risk of serious injury when riding in these seats. Crash tests showed that dummies weighing less than 40 pounds were likely to be ejected, and that babies had greater trauma to their upper body, abdomen, and head. Based on these studies the American Academy of Pediatrics has discouraged the use of shield booster seats. Advocates against the continued sale of this shield booster seat formed PACE, Parents Against Cosco Explorers after 30 children were injured and killed in it due to the poor safety design. Read more.

KID releases report—Safety Shortcuts: Children’s Product Recalls of 2003

February 2004 On February 23, 2004 KID released Safety Shortcuts: Children’s Product Recalls of 2003, examining the children’s product recalls of the past year. In 2003, companies that promote cognitive learning used lead paint, children’s clothing burned faster than newspaper, nightlights exploded, and crib mobiles leaked battery acid on infants. These were just a few examples of the 66 children’s products that were recalled in 2003. Additionally, the report found that children’s product recalls dropped dramatically last year. Since 1999, recalls of children’s products have averaged 50% of total recalls; this year children’s products recalls represented only 30% of the 214 recalls.

We were discouraged to see shortcuts being taken when it comes to our children’s safety,” stated Nancy Cowles, executive director of KID. “The CPSC’s recent cost benefit analysis of recalls seems to be extremely unbeneficial to children, leaving products that are dangerous on the market with warnings instead of recalls, or in some cases no warnings at all.” See our list of five “What Were They Thinking?” products or download the report.

Parents complain of dangers of Graco travel swing

January 2004 Although the Graco Travel Lite portable swing is advertised as “a cozy and fun place for your little one to catch some zzz’s or enjoy the soothing swing motion,” Chicago’s NBC Target 5 reported that 86% of the Travel Lite reviews on Amazon.com were negative. The dangers of the swing were brought to Target 5′s attention by a father whose son fell forward in the swing, almost suffocating. Please report any incidents to CPSC and Graco.

“Once your child can start to sit up and lean forward they will tip forward and fall out and hit the ground!”

“The handle bar is dangerous — I had to stop my 2-1/2 year old daughter from accidentally slamming him in the face with it — it does not have a catch to prevent the child from being injured.”

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