Category Archives: News in Child Safety

More Window Blind and Shade Recalls After More Children Die

There’s nothing I find more senseless than children being seriously injured or dying as a result of a well known, and easily fixable, hazard.  Last year, I wrote about the strangulation danger posed by a common household item — window blinds and shades.  Since then, three more kids have died, and there is another recall.  The recall covers 4.2 million roll-up blinds with plastic slats made by Lewis Hyman Inc.; 600,000 Woolrich Roman shades; blinds and shades made by Vertical Land Inc. of Panama City Beach, Fla.; Roman shades by Pottery Barn Kids/Williams-Sonoma Inc.; 245,000 Lutron Shading Solutions fabric roller shades; 163,000 Roman shades by Victoria Classics; and IKEA is recalling 120,000 MELINA Roman Blinds.  The LA Times has a good article about the problem and the recall.

This is so infuriating.  This problem has been recognized for decades, yet shades and blinds are still being produced with this dangerous problem.  A group called Parents for Window Blind Safety has an informative website that focuses on correcting the danger.  It also brings the tragedy home as it shows the many children who have died as a result of these products.

The best solution for parents is to purchase cordless blinds.  Go here for available types, or ask for them at your local home improvement center.  If you have purchased these blinds, go to the CPSC to find out what to do.  At the very least, parents should cut cord loops of existing blinds in half, never leave your children unattended in a room with these blinds, and NEVER put a crib or play yard in the vicinity of a blind.

New CDC Report on Child Safety and Injuries

The CDC has released a report on child injuries which is fascinating and very instructive. I’ll write on this in greater detail over the next few weeks, but I highly recommend that parents take a look at the report for themselves. One very sobering statistic – every day in the United States, 20 children die as a result of preventable injuries. This is higher than the number of deaths from all childhood diseases combined. Go to the next page for other highlights.

Other highlights of the report:

  • The majority of deaths were from five causes: falls, being struck by or against an object, overexertion, motor vehicle deaths, and animal bites or insect stings.
  • Falls were the leading cause of non-fatal injuries, accounting for approximately 2.8 million emergency room visits (one of whom was our son Michael when he was 14 months old – but he’s got the walking thing down now).
  • Leading causes of fatal injuries per age group – suffocation was the cause of two-thirds of deaths for children under 1 year of age, drowning was the major cause for children 1-4, and for 5-19 year olds, the leading cause was being an occupant in a motor vehicle crash.

I always preach that the three greatest dangers for parents are cars, water and burn injuries. I will now add falls to that list. We as parents cannot prevent all the bumps and bruises of childhood, but these are the areas where we need to be especially vigilant for our children’s safety.

Toy Safety Organization Releases Its Annual Top 10 Worst Toys

Just in time for Christmas, an organization called W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) has released its annual list of the top 10 worst toys.  What amazes me is that all of the hazards here have long been established — choking hazards, projectiles that can damage eyes, etc – yet these dangerous toys still reach the market.  There is no approval or evaluation process by any government agency for toys – the CPSC only steps in when a problem is identified.  Please go to the next page for the list.

Click here for a list of the worst toys of all time (complete with Lawn Darts).  These would be funny if not for the fact that each of these put thousands of kids needlessly at risk.
Animal Alley Purse Pet
Ninja Battle Gear – Michelangelo
Walk’n Sounds Digger The Dog
Pucci Puppies – My Own Puppy House Golden Retriever
Meadow Mystery Play-A-Sound Book With A Cuddly Pooh
Inflatable Giga Ball
Spider-Man Adjustable Toy Skates
Sportsman Shotgun
Extreme Spiral Copters
Go Go Minis Pullback Vehicle

Parents — Check Your Window Blinds – Recalls of Blinds Made by Ikea and Green Mountain Vista

Some hazards are obviously dangerous to kids – the Drano under the sink, a pot of boiling water on the stove, or a car backing out of the driveway.  Those are things we as parents intuitively know can be dangerous to our kids, so we take precautions such as cabinet locks and stove guards to protect them. 

Not all hazards are so obvious, but they can be just as dangerous.  Window blinds are a great example.  They seem innocent enough, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a child could hurt himself (or herself) if left alone with one.  Yet, the cords on certain window blinds can present a serious strangulation hazard to young children.  Over the years, hundreds of boys and girls have been seriously injured and even killed by becoming entangled and then strangled by window blind cords.

On Thursday, the CPSC issued two recall alerts.  Popular furniture maker IKEA is recalling its IRIS and ALVINE Roman Blinds, and Green Mountain Vista Inc of Williston, Vt. is recalling its Insulated Black-Out Roller Shades and Insulated Roman Shades. This past April, a one year old girl in Greenwich, Ct.tragically died as a result of strangulation by the cord of an IKEA blind.  She was found in her playpen with the cord from a nearby fully lowered blind wrapped twice around her neck.  This past June, a two year old girl from Bristol, Ct, was nearly strangled by a Green Mountain Vista blind when she placed a cord loop around her neck and then fell.  Luckily, she was saved by her brother.

The IKEA shades were sold at its stores nationwide for between $7 and $30 from July 2005 through June 2008.  The Green Mountain Vista shades were sold nationwide for between $60 and $200 at the following stores: Target.com, Plow & Hearth, Country
Curtains,
The
Curtain Shop of Maine,
Sturbridge, Yankee
Workshop, Ann & Hope,
The Linen Source, Solutions Catalog, and The Sportsman’s Guide.

IKEA’s recall states that users should return the blinds to one of its stores for a full refund.  Green Mountain says that users should check their blinds to see if the tensioning device is still attached.  If it’s not, they should contact Green Mountain Vista at (800) 639- 1728 or go to its website.

For window blind safety, I found a great site — the Window Covering Safety Council.  I highly recommend checking out this site and then checking your window coverings.  Here are basic safety tips from their website:

Install only cordless window coverings in young children’s bedrooms and sleeping areas. Replace window blinds, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with today’s safer products

Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall

Keep all window pull cords and inner lift cords out of the reach of children. Make sure that tasseled pull cords are short and continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall. Make sure cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit movement of inner lift cords

Lock cords into position whenever horizontal blinds or shades are lowered, including when they come to rest on a windowsill.

If you have any questions or need more information, please email Bryan Slaughter.

Are Cold Medicines for Kids Safe?

Recently, there has been controversy over the safety and efficacy of many cough and cold medicines for young children.   Last year, the FDA.issued a public health advisory warning against the use of such medicines for children under two.  In October, manufacturers voluntarily changed the labeling and warnings to state that these medicines should not be given to children under four.

The problem is that studies have shown that cough and cold medicines are not effective for young children, and there are approximately 7,000 pediatric emergency room visits per year as a result of adverse reactions.  Most of these visits are the result of unintentional overdosing — parents guess at the dose, or they don’t realize when two medicines contain the same active ingredient.  Studies are currently being done regarding whether these medicines are effective for children under 12, but they won’t be completed for a couple of years.

So, where does that leave us parents?  First, don’t panic, and don’t necessarily clean out your medicine cabinets.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Do not give adult medicines to children, no matter how much you cut the dose.
  • Strictly follow dosing instructions.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about which medicines to use and in what amounts.
  • Check the “Drug Facts” section of the label to see what the active ingredients are.  For instance, most of the cough and cold medicines contain some type of pain reliever such as acetomitophine (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil), in addition to other ingredients for cough or a stuffy nose.
  • Be very careful when giving more than one medicine at a time — this is where accidental overdoses often occur.  Using the example above, a problem could arise if a parent gives their child Advil and then a multi- symptom medicine containing Advil.
  • Realize that these medicines do nothing to cure or shorten colds and the flu.  They only work on the symptoms.  Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids and rest.

Check back here — the CSB will be monitoring the current studies and announcements regarding cough and cold medicines

So what are the parents out there doing — using these medicines or not?

Dangerous Cribs Recalled

Given all that is known about crib safety, and how long the industry has known about potential hazards, it amazes me that we still have a problem with dangerous cribs.  Over the last month, there have been four crib recalls, all for entrapment and suffocation hazards.  As is too often the case, it took the death or serious injury of a child for these recalls to happen.  The recalled cribs are:

The Delta recall involves over 1,500,000 cribs.  The danger involves missing or failing safety pegs for the drop rails.  The CPSC is aware of two deaths and other instances of entrapment involving these cribs.

Whenever parents use previously owned/older cribs, they should make sure that they have all the hardware and that they are putting the crib together correctly.  For instance, for some older cribs, it is possible to switch the mattress platform with the crib rails.  If directions are not with the crib, parents should check the manufacturers website to see if they are posted there.  Most importantly, use common sense.  After the crib has been put together, look for any noticeable gaps.  Also make sure that the drop rail, if there is one, is well attached and slides smoothly.  Finally, make sure that there are no large gaps between the spindles where a baby’s head could become entrapped.  One useful test — if a soda can can fit through the spindles, they are too wide.