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Safety Recalls: Educating Parents and Child Care Providers
By Carolyn Tomlin

Accidents have replaced disease as the leading cause of death among very young children. Overall, notes the Child Welfare League of America, infant mortality is down from 29 deaths per 1,000 births in 1950 to seven deaths per 1,000 today (TEA Today). Research shows that the correct use of child safety seats will reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent. Yet, 80 percent of all child safety seats are either incorrectly installed or misused. Educating parents and day care providers on the best seats available, as well as proper installation, will help keep children safe 
on the road. (Data from Jackson-Madison County Health Department, Jackson, TN June 2000.) 
Ultimately, the knowledge of unsafe products will protect children at home and in child care centers. 

Injuries and deaths due to unsafe and dangerous products now have the attention of the U.S. Postal Service. America's post offices now have a new poster to accompany the FBI's "Most Wanted" list of dangerous criminals. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced spring of 2000 they would display posters of safety recalls in 33,000 postal locations. This would alert the public to the most dangerous products. Commission Chairwoman Ann Brown said the posters -- with color pictures of the recalled products -- will allow people to recognize hazardous products around the house. "We can get dangerous products off store shelves, but the real challenge is to get them out of families' homes," she said. The same is true for child care centers. Despite recall notices and public warnings, CPSC has found that many products with the potential to seriously injure or kill are still being used by consumers. Francia Smith, vice president of consumer affairs for the U.S. Postal Service, said postal officials decided to become involved because "we're convinced that this action will help prevent injuries and save lives." With over seven million people entering offices every day, these notices will inform the public of dangerous products. Officials from 32 states will also visit thrift stores to seek out the recall products. This new outreach program was launched as the commission announced its annual recall roundup, a list of products that were recalled throughout the previous year. 

Recalled products pose a threat of injury or death. Displaying a list of recalled products will remind caretakers and parents to remove or repair potentially dangerous children's toys and products. As child care providers you have a responsibility to keep children safe when they are in your center. Plus, you have an obligation to parents to inform them of safety recalls both at home and at your site. (See U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.) Good providers spend time listening and telling. They do this instinctively. Parents who are looking for child care will look for those who not only listen but also tell or teach. And parents will be encouraged to follow up. It's something families should be able to depend on through at all times, because child care is only a larger extension of the family (Scripps Howard News Service).

Product Recalls*
The following are only a few of the hazardous products child care providers and parents should be aware of: 

Infant Car/Seat Carriers
Cosco, Inc. (Models "Arriva" and "Turnabout" made before September 9, 1997)

Evenflo Company, Inc. (On My Way Models 207 and 492 made before July 27, 1997)

Problem: Unexpected release of handle locks can unexpectedly release, causing the seat to flip forward, permitting infant to falls and suffer serious injuries, such as skull fractures or concussions. 

Remedy/Repair: Call Cosco, Inc. at 800-221-6736 or Evenflo Company, Inc. at 800-203-2138.


Pokemon Balls included with Burger King kids meals 
Burger King Corporation 
Distributed from November 1999 to December 1999

Problem: May pose a suffocation hazard to children under three years of age if either half of the ball gets stuck on the child's face, covering the nose and mouth. 

Remedy/Repair: Do not allow children under the age of three to play with this toy.


Swimming Pool Dive Sticks 
Several brands

Problem: Causes impalement or facial injury if children fall or land on a dive stick. 

Remedy/Repair: Discard dive sticks or return to retailer for refund or repair. 


Television Carts
Sauder Woodworking Company (Models 5155, 5055, and 5251)
Made through September 1998

Bush Industries, Inc. (Models 5414 and 5014)
Made from June 1992 to August 1998
 
Problem: TV carts can tip over injuring children or adults.

Remedy/Repair: Free repair kit. Call Sauder Woodworking Co. at 888-800-4590 or Bush Industries, Inc. at 800-950-4782.


Cedar Chests 
Lane Furniture Company
Made between 1912 and 1987

Problem: Children can become trapped in the chests and suffocate.

Remedy/Repair: Replacement locks can be requested by calling 888-856-8758.


Quiet Time Infant Swings
Cosco, Inc.
Models #08-975 and #08-977 made before October 1995
 
Problem: Infants can fall when screws connecting metal hanger tubes and U-shaped seat support loosen and fall out.

Remedy/Repair: Call 800-221-6736.


Lil'Napper Infant Swings
Century Products Company
 
Problem: If the shoulder straps loosen or are unbuckled, a child can become entangled and strangle.

Remedy/Repair: Call 800-231-1448.


Old Cribs
Problem: 
Old Cribs that have slats too far apart, cornerposts, cut-outs in headboard or footboard, loose-fitting mattress, and missing hardware may suffocate or strangle infants.

Remedy/Repair: Destroy old crib and purchase new crib that meets current safety standards.


Drawstrings on Children's Jackets and Sweatshirts
Problem: 
Drawstrings around the neck can catch and kill children. Those at the waist of bottom of outerwear can become caught on motor vehicles and cause dragging injuries or death. 

Remedy/Repair: Remove all drawstrings on children's jackets and sweatshirts. 

* All products listed were from the CPSC Press Release, Recall Round-Up Day: 
April 18, 2000. 

Safety Guidelines for Child Care Providers 
A recent report prepared by the CPSC offers the following suggestions for making your center safe for children. 

  • Soft Bedding. Place babies on their backs in a crib with a firm, flat mattress. 
    Avoid pillows, soft bedding, or comforters when babies are sleeping. 
  • Cribs. Refuse to accept donations or old cribs that do not meet current safety 
    guidelines. Look for a certification safety seal. Slats should be no more than 2 
    3/8" apart. Mattress should fit snugly. 
  • Playground surfacing. When surfacing outdoor playgrounds, provide at least 
    12-inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or mats made of safety- 
    tested rubber or rubber-like material. 
  • Playground Maintenance. Check playground surfacing and equipment 
    regularly. Make sure equipment is in good condition. 
  • Safety Gates. Use safety gates to keep children away from potentially 
    dangerous areas, especially stairs. 
  • Window blind and curtain cords. Cut looped cords on miniblinds and 
    venetian blinds. Check vertical blinds, continuous looped blinds, and drapery 
     cords for tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. This can prevent 
    strangulation. 
  • Clothing fasteners. Children's outerwear should contain no drawstrings. 
    Snaps, zippers, hook and loop fasteners (such as Velcro) should be used. 
    Lori Carter and Lori Marques have educated caregivers for years on keeping 
    children safe in every situation. In their book, Child Safety Made Easy, they 
    remind caregivers of all the hazards to watch for when caring for a young child 
    (Carter and Marques, 1999). 


Carolyn Ross Tomlin, M.Ed. has been a day care director, taught public school 
kindergarten, and served as assistant professor of early childhood education at 
Union University. She often contributes articles to numerous publications 
addressing early childhood education. 

Resources
For additional information about children's safety and recalls of children's toys and products, contact the following organizations: 

U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission
Washington, DC 20207 
Phone: (800) 638-2772. 
Hearing/Speech Impaired: (800) 638-8270. 
Website: www.cpsc.gov 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Auto Safety Hotline NAD 40
Rm. 2318
400 Seventh St. SW
Washington DC 20590
Contact for questions on airbags, child passenger safety, booster seats, and transportation safety tips. 

National Safe Kids Campaign
Website: www.safekids.org/buckleup/press000118.html
Contact for educating parents and child care providers on how to use children's car seats properly. 

References 
Carter, L., & Marques, L. (1999). Child Safety Made Easy. Screamin' 
Mini Publications. 

Greenberg, Brigitte, (April 19, 2000) The Jackson Sun, Recalls to go up at post offices. 

Consumer Product Safety Commission, (April 18, 2000), News from CPSC, 
Office of Information and Public Affairs, Washington DC: National Education Association, (May 1999).

The Jackson Sun, Scripp Howard News Service, (April 25, 2000). Generosity a feature of quality day care, 2B.