5 Products Dangerous to Children That Could be Lurking in Your Home
Despite high-profile recalls and deaths, many of these products are still in use
Consumer product recalls, even when a particularly dangerous product is involved, tend to have low compliance rates. Consumers either don’t hear about the recalls or don’t act on them. Child safety advocates and government officials say that means it's likely that products blamed for causing serious injuries and deaths of young children remain in homes around the country.
The dangers are rarely obvious. In most cases, a lethal product doesn't look a whole lot different than a safe one. So it's particularly important for parents and caregivers to know about specific products whose defects have raised alarm.
Many of the most serious recalls ask consumers to stop using the product. In other cases, a remedy is offered that can remove the danger.
Here are five hazardous products that have been recalled and the risks they pose to children.
Lane cedar chests
This has been one of the most vexing recalls. The durability of these wooden chests and their benign appearance has allowed a problem identified nearly 20 years ago to persist.
Lane Home Furniture, in 1996, recalled 12 million chests made between 1912 and 1987 following the suffocation deaths of at least six children who had become trapped inside the air-tight boxes, whose lids automatically latch shut when closed. Even after the recall, reports of deaths continued, including a brother and sister, ages seven and eight, in 2014. The family had purchased the 75-year-old chest at a local resale store.
Lane has been offering a free replacement lock that doesn’t automatically latch.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the chests, which are often handed down through families or purchased second-hand, have the brand name “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” inside.
Bumbo baby seats
When Bumbo was first introduced in the United States in 2003, sales took off. Parents embraced the idea of a seat that could put an infant in a sitting position before they could sit up on their own. An estimated 4 million of the seats were sold.
Then came reports of accidents. Bumbo was first recalled in 2007 after more than two dozen injuries were reported, including skull fractures. The recall involved a new warning label to try to get parents to not use the seats on elevated surfaces and to never leave a baby in a seat out of arm's reach.
But by 2011 the CPSC was hearing about incidents that preceded the first recall, in addition to dozens more new reports of serious injuries. So the safety agency and the company jointly issued a new warning about the seats. It became clear that infants were wiggling their way out of the seats and tumbling out.
Finally, in 2012 the CPSC announced another recall, this time offering safety restraint as a solution. The company and the government urge anyone who has one of the seats to not use it without the restraint.
What started out as a success story of a mom who designed a reclined infant seat to help babies who had difficulty sleeping in cribs turned into a nightmare. At least six babies died in Nap Nanny seats and dozens more incidents were reported to federal safety officials.
Babies in the seat were sliding out of position and getting trapped in the harness. In the most serious cases, they were strangled. The company fought the recall and defended its product, ultimately going out of business during the battle.
So the CPSC turned to major retailers who had sold the product. The biggest of them, including Amazon and Toys R Us, agreed to stop selling Nap Nanny and refund consumers who had purchased it. The product is not considered safe to use.
Simplicity cribs and bassinets
Simplicity cribs were inexpensive and sold just about everywhere. Millions ended up in American homes, with sales peaking at a time when drop-side cribs, which are now banned, were the standard.
Simplicity cribs and bassinets were implicated in the deaths of at least 13 babies. Recall after recall of Simplicity products alerted many consumers to the dangers, but the sheer volume of sales makes it clear that thousands likely remain in use.
Compounding matters, Simplicity products were sold under other brand names. The problem, safety officials say, is the company, which shut down as the depth of the issues with its products became known, is Simplicity products were poorly made. And in cribs in bassinets, that put infants at risk of being trapped and suffocating.
CPSC has a list of recalled Simplicity-made or -branded cribs and bassinets, which includes several Graco-branded products as well as two play yards.
Toys with small magnets
While toys with magnets can be fun, deaths and serious intestinal injuries have shown just how dangerous magnets can be when kids accidentally swallow them.
As the magnets travel into a child's digestive system they can cause the intestines to twist as well as create other complications that have cost kids their lives or forced them to undergo emergency surgery.
Millions of Magnetix building sets have been recalled because of small magnets that can become detached. According to CPSC, the recall includes all sets, except newer Magnetix sets sold since March 31, 2006, that are age-labeled 6+ and sets that contain the following caution label:
"CAUTION: Do not ingest or inhale magnets.
Attraction of magnets in the body may cause
serious injury and require immediate medical care."
According to CPSC, “Mega Brands advises that sets currently at retail better retain magnets due to improved quality control, material and design changes. These products are not included in the recall.”
The problem of kids swallowing magnets has grown significantly since the Magnetix recall. A ban on high-powered magnets was instituted after the recall of Buckyballs, which the CPSC said in 2013 had caused dozens of cases of hospitalization in children, including teens.