More Crib Recalls

In the broken record category, we had another major crib recall last week.  A company called Stork Craft Manufacturing, Inc. has recalled 2.1 million cribs.  The cribs were manufactured beginning in 1993, and have been sold by retailers such as Wal-Mart, BabiesRUs, K-Mart and Sears (among others).  Some of these cribs have the Fischer Price brand on them, and come in many different styles and finishes. For more information, go to the CPSC page on the recall, or go to the Stork Craft site via the link above.

This is not one of those recalls where a potential safety problem was discovered, and the recall occurred before anyone was hurt.  Here, four infants died, including a six month old in West Virginia.  These deaths are absolutely senseless.  First, it appears that this company has had hundreds of complaints about these cribs – why did it take so long for this recall to occur?  Second, why is it so hard to design a safe crib?  The hardware used to assemble these cribs is cheaply made, and therefore breaks easily.  This permits the drop side component of the crib to become loose, and enables a child to become entrapped between the drop-side and the mattress.  Once that happens, a baby can suffocate.  There are numerous crib designs that address this potential hazard, and in my opinion this company decided to cut corners to increase the profitability of the cribs.

As an aside, I have raised four babies, and each had a crib with a drop-side.  I don’t think I ever actually used this feature, and my wife has only done so a couple of times.  If I were purchasing a crib now, I would consider buying one without a drop-side – it introduces a movable part into the crib, and as a result there is an increased opportunity for malfunction.

Another Installment About Child Safety Seats

Couldn’t resist the pun in the title.  So we’re talking again about child safety seats.  Why? Because they’re really important.  There are few things that a parent or caregiver can do to keep a child safe that are more effective than placing that child in a properly installed child safety seat.  For earlier posts about child seats and how they work, you can go here and here.

A lot of progress has been made in reducing deaths and injuries to children by publicizing the correct use of child safety seats, booster seats and safety belts.  But we can do more.  We appreciate the time and attention the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and others advocating for child passenger safety have devoted to this important cause, but more work needs to be done to protect children who ride in cars in safety seats.

The NHTSA says 3 out of 4 car seats are not properly used or installed and that 3 out of every 4 children in child safety seats are not properly secured, or are not restrained at all.

As a parent, do you know how to use the Safety Seat correctly?  Some parents are not sure how to install their child’s safety seat properly. It’s important for parents to know that not every seat fits every car.  Also, some parents don’t know their vehicle (if manufactured after September 2002) is required to be equipped with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system.

NHTSA says, “LATCH makes it easier to get the child seat in right.”  And NHTSA has several video demonstrations on their website (with instructions in both English and Spanish) which you can view!  Go here to view.

We know as a parent or caregiver, you want to protect your children the best way possible, and using the LATCH system is one way to help.

Another way is to learn which kind of seat is best and safest to use for your children: NHTSA says, “for infants (from birth to at least 1 year old or at least 20 pounds), the best possible protection is to place them in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats.”

When children outgrow rear-facing seats (when they are older than one year old and weigh more than 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, still in the back seat, until they reach an upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Always check the child safety seat instruction manual of the brand of child safety seat you have. Every safety seat manufacturer provides specific instructions to the proper installation and use of their brand of child safety seat.

Finally, if as a parent or caregiver you are still not sure whether your child safety seat is properly installed, you can take your vehicle to a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station.  If you need help locating a child safety seat inspection station near you, you can call the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (Vehicle Safety Hotline) or you can jump to this link.  Enter your zip code or state, and a list of child safety seat inspection stations in your area or state will be displayed.  Some stations have bilingual speakers and some stations inspect by appointment only.  You may want to call ahead!

With grateful thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To write NHTSA and obtain more information on Child Safety Seats, please contact them at:

NHTSA Headquarters
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building
Washington, DC 20590

Preventing Child Scald and Burn Injuries (Part 1)

Today’s topic is preventing scald and burn injuries in children.  Most accidents occur in the home, and scalds and burns to children almost always occur in the kitchen or bathroom of the home. For the most part, these are preventable injuries. Burns, especially scalds from hot water and, cooking liquids, are some of the most commonly occurring accidents to children. Babies and young children are most vulnerable because they’re small and have sensitive skin that requires greater protection than adult skin.

While minor burns (“first-degree” burns) can often be safely treated at home, more serious burns (second- and third-degree burns) require immediate medical care. Most parents are aware that the causes of burns range from scalds, to contact with flames or hot objects, chemical burns (from chemical spills of home cleaning items like bleach, drain cleaner, dishwasher detergent, etc.), to electrical burns from hot appliances or frayed electrical cords, to burned skin from over-exposure to sun.

Medical professionals caution parents that all burns need to be treated as soon as possible to lower the temperature of the burned area and minimize damage to the skin and underlying tissues (in the case of severe burns).

Being Safe in the Kitchen
Finding Out About Fireworks Safety
How to Be Safe When You’re in the Sun
Dealing With Burns
Fireworks Safety

Loma Linda Children’s Hospital in Loma Linda, California, advises parents that toddlers are at greatest risk of scalds and burns as they begin to walk, climb, and reach, while children under age 5 are at greatest risk when fire strikes, as they may panic and hide in closets or under beds. Some children are needlessly burned because they think clothes protect them from flames. In children
ages 3 to 8, curiosity about matches and lighters is normal. But, sadly, more than one-third of the burns to these children are the result of playing with matches.

The following simple tips to prevent scalds and burns can make your home safer for you and your children.

To prevent scalds in the kitchen:

  • Keep hot foods and drinks away from the edge of tables and counters. Do not put them on a tablecloth that small hands can tug.
  • If you’re holding something hot, don’t hold your child at the same time.
  • When you cook, keep your child away from the stove.
  • When you cook, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. If possible, use rear burners.
  • Always watch for dangling appliance cords to fry pans, irons, and other heated appliances (hot plates, crock pots, etc.).
  • When you pass a hot item, food or beverage, to another person, do not pass it over the head of a child.

To prevent scalds in the bathroom:

  • Test the heat of water. Turn on the hot water at the tub faucet. Let it run for 3 to 5 minutes. Measure the temperature with a hot water gauge or mercury thermometer.
  • For safe bathing, set the water heater’s thermostat to low, warm, or 120 degrees F. Wait a day. Test the water again. Repeat if necessary. Your clothes and dishes will get clean at this setting!
  • Install anti-scald devices in shower and bathtub fixtures that stop water flow when the temperature exceeds 120 degrees F.
  • Always check water temperature before placing your child in the tub. A child’s skin burns more easily than an adult’s.  Test the water by placing a few drops on your wrist–if it’s hot for you, it’s too hot for your child.
  • Supervise children when they are in the bathtub. Young children can turn the hot water on by themselves. Older children can accidentally scald a younger child.
  • If you rent, ask your landlord if it’s possible to lower the water temperature or put an anti-scald device in your shower and bathtub fixtures.