One of the biggest problems with the product safety system in the U.S. is that it requires a great deal of voluntary participation.
Companies are supposed to voluntarily report a defect to the government. Consumers are supposed to voluntarily follow the terms of the recall. We don't know how many companies avoid telling the truth, but we do know that an awful lot of families avoid dealing with recalls. To what extent that's attributable to neglect or ignorance isn't clear.
Scott Wolfson, spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), says, "What we know at CPSC is that the response rate for some of these recalls can be low, which can present a serious risk of a child being hurt after the recall is announced. This is a great concern to our safety agency."
Because so many dangerous products remain in homes across America, CPSC compiled a Most Wanted list for Parents.com. Each one of the top five specifically poses a threat to children.
- Simplicity cribs (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07307.html)
More than 1 million of these inexpensive, poorly made, and dangerous cribs were sold, and because the company went out of business it has been particularly difficult to determine how many of the cribs are still in homes. At least a dozen babies have suffocated or been strangled in Simplicity cribs and dozens more have been hurt.
- Simplicity bassinets (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09319.html)
The same brand, different product, and more deaths. Retailers banded together to stop selling the bassinets, which were blamed for at least two deaths. But hundreds of thousands were sold and, as with the cribs, it is not known how many remain in homes.
- Magnetix construction sets (http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PREREL/prhtml07/07256.pdf)
The tiny magnets in these building sets, sold between 2005 and 2007, can fall out and be swallowed by small children, posing a potentially lethal hazard. More than 1 million of these sets were recalled.
- Delta cribs (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11179.html)
The re-announcement of this recall in March 2011 after the death of another child highlights the importance of learning about recalls and acting on them. About 1 million of these cribs that pose entrapment and suffocation risks were recalled.
- Window coverings -- vertical blinds, Roman shades, roll-up blinds -- that have exposed cords (http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10077.html)
Millions of window coverings made by numerous manufacturers were recalled over largely the same issue: Their exposed cords pose a strangulation risk to small children. At least 41 deaths have been connected to these blinds. For many of these products, there are simple alternatives. (http://www.parents.com/baby/safety/nursery/window-covering-safety/)
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