What happens once a recall is initiated is crucial and is where the system fails the most.
How consumers react when they have a dangerous product in their homes, particularly a children's product, can literally be the difference between life and death.
"Knowing about and responding to product recalls can be a lifesaver," says Scott Wolfson, spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC}. "Danny Keysar...tragically died in 1998 in a portable crib that had been previously recalled -- and involved in previous fatalities. We want to honor Danny and other children taken too soon by increasing awareness of product recalls and making the standards for juvenile products much stronger."
Once a recall is initiated, CPSC (www.cpsc.gov) will issue a press release that is distributed and then posted to its website. In addition, parents can sign up for email alerts about recalls from the CPSC and register all durable children's products with the manufacturer.
"It's really important they do something and not take the 'cross the fingers and hope it doesn't happen to you' approach," says Jennifer Toney, founder of WeMakeitSafer.com (www.WeMakeitSafer.com), a site that collects and analyzes recall data. The company also offers a free service to help parents find out if any products they have were recalled.
So, what should you do if a product you own has been recalled?
The short answer is to heed the recall. If a crib is recalled and the warning is that children should not be allowed to sleep in it until the hazard is fixed, then a safe alternative sleeping arrangement should be found. If the solution to a recall is that a small part should be kept away from young children, there's good reason to do that.
Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger, notes that most manufacturers offer additional information on their websites following a recall. She urges anyone who is in doubt about a product to dispose of it.
"If you have never experienced a problem, you should consider yourself lucky to learn of the hazard before your child found it," Cowles says. "Just as in a minefield, many people walk through safely, but if your child is the one who is injured, you know using the product isn't worth the risk."
Baby products, including cribs and infant carriers, were associated with about 77,000 emergency room visits by children under the age of 5 in 2009, according to a study (www.cpsc.gov/library/nursery09.pdf) by the CPSC in 2010. An average of 88 children each year die in nursery product-related incidents.
"New parents have so much to deal with when it comes to caring for a new baby, but all we are asking at CPSC is that you invest a few minutes each week to stay apprised of recalled products that could be in your nursery or home," Wolfson says.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.