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Childproofing and Safety at Home

What do I need to know about children’s products and recalls?

The first step—make sure what you have is safe:
Check every children’s product you own, and be sure it hasn’t been recalled. Do not assume that if you have filled out the registration card you will be contacted if there is a safety problem or recall.  Contacting consumers in case of a dangerous product is only required of car seat manufacturers, and recalls are usually not well publicized. [1] This leaves it up to you, the consumer, to seek out recall information.

Be cautious with used products and hand-me-downs:
Use caution when buying products at garage sales, thrift stores or resale shops. Some products for sale could be broken, recalled, or otherwise unsafe. A CPSC study in 1999 revealed that nearly 70 Sign up for CPSC recall updatespercent of resale stores sold at least one hazardous product. One of the top three products found at that time was cribs that did not meet federal safety standards [2].

Know how to check and stay current on product recalls:
You can check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC: 1-800-638-CPSC or 1-800-638-2772) to find out about kids’ products recalls. Remember that a product can be recalled at any time, even years after it came out, so it’s a good idea to check regularly, and get on the CPSC’s mailing list.

 

The CPSC’s Top Ten list of recalled children’s products includes:

Date Recalled Product Hazard
March 10, 1993 Playskool Travel-Lite Play Yards If the side rails of the portable crib fold during use, an infant can become entrapped and suffocate. Three deaths have been reported.
June 25, 1997 Evenflo Happy Camper Play Yards The product can collapse, trapping the child in the "V" formed by the folded top rails. The rotating plastic hinges can crack or break, presenting a sharp edge or possibly allowing the child to escape. Evenflo and CPSC are aware of three deaths involving the play yards.
December 19, 1994 & February 28, 2001 Baby Trend Home and Roam and Baby Express Portable Cribs and Play Yards These cribs/play yards can collapse and entrap an infant. In January 2001, a 9-month-old baby in Longview, Wash., died of asphyxiation when her neck was caught in the V-shape created by the collapsed sides of her crib/play yard. There have been three other deaths and three reports of babies found not breathing (who were revived) associated with these products.
March 31, 2006 & April 19, 2007 Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets Tiny magnets inside the plastic building pieces and rods can fall out. Magnets found by young children can be swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. This product is unsuitable for young children. CPSC is aware of one death and at least 27 serious injuries.
July 19, 2007 Easy Bake Ovens Young children can insert their hands into the oven's front opening, and get their hands or fingers caught, posing entrapment and burn hazards.
August 14, 2007 & November 21, 2006 Polly Pocket Dolls with Magnets Small magnets inside the dolls and accessories can come loose. The magnets can be found by young children and swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other and cause intestinal perforation or blockage, which can be fatal. CPSC is aware of 3 serious injuries.
July 2, 2009, September 17, 2008 & September 21, 2007 Simplicity Drop Side Cribs The drop side can detach. When the drop side detaches, it creates space between the drop side and the crib mattress. Infants and toddlers can roll into this space and become entrapped which can lead to suffocation. CPSC is aware of 10 deaths associated with Simplicity drop side cribs.
September 11, 2008, August 27, 2008 & August 28, 2008 Simplicity Bassinets (also includes bassinets with Graco or Winnie the Pooh motif) The Simplicity 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 convertible bassinets contain metal bars that are covered by an adjustable fabric flap which is attached by velcro. The fabric is folded down when the bassinet is converted into a bed-side co-sleeping position. If the velcro is not properly re-secured when the flap is adjusted, an infant can slip through the opening and become entrapped between the metal bars and suffocate. CPSC is aware of at least three deaths involving Simplicity bassinets.
February 12, 2009 Hill Sportswear hooded drawstring sweatshirts CPSC received one report of a death involving a 3-year-old boy in Fresno, Calif. He was strangled when the drawstring on the hooded sweatshirt that he was wearing became stuck on a playground set.
April 2, 2009 Evenflo Envision High Chairs Recline fasteners and metal screws on both sides of the high chair can loosen and fall out, allowing the seatback to detach or recline unexpectedly. Children can fall backwards or fall out of the high chair and suffer bumps and bruises to the head, abrasions, cuts and bruises. Detached hardware also poses a choking hazard to children.

What are some potential hazards of common children’s products and toys?

How can I find out about dangerous equipment and product recalls?

The only way to be sure you are not using a recalled product is to check yourself.  Use caution when buying products at garage sales, thrift stores or resale shops.  Some products for sale there could be broken, recalled, or otherwise unsafe.   You can check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC: 1-800-638-CPSC or 1-800-638-2772) to find out about kids’ products recalls.  Remember that a product can be recalled at any time, even years after it came out, so it’s a good idea to check often, and get on the CPSC’s mailing list.  If you want to find out about car seat recalls, see Your Child: Car Seats.

How do I childproof my house?

Go through your house with this these childproofing checklists to see what you need to do.

Installing and using basic safety devices: basic safety devices can be reasonably priced and save your family members’ lives.  You need at least one smoke detector on each floor of your house. It's a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand as well.  Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are for electrical outlets and help prevent deaths and injuries from electricity.  Different kinds are available, and for different prices—ask at your hardware store.  Hair dryers with shock protection are also available and can prevent electrocution.  Use the childproof lids that come on medicine containers, and install safety latches on cupboards to prevent accidental poisoning.

Childproofing and safety products are available in hardware stores, baby and child stores, some discount and department stores, and in catalogs.   These products can be very useful in solving safety problems around your home, and may give you more ideas on how to childproof. The CPSC recommends 12 important safety devices to protect children. On-line child safety catalogs include: Perfectly Safe, Safe Beginnings, and Safe ‘n’ Sound Kids. (These are listed for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement of these catalogs.)

What else do I need to know about dangers at home and childproofing?

How can I keep my child’s eyes safe and healthy?

Here are some eye safety tips:

How do I childproof my yard and garage?

Be sure your playground equipment, swings, and climbing equipment are sturdy and safe. Garden hoses should not be stored in the sun, because the water sitting in them can become so hot it can scald and burn a child. Make sure the yard is climb proof, except for safe climbing toys or equipment. In the garage, power tools, sharp objects, paints, solvents, pesticides and other chemicals should be stored out of reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Never mow your lawn with a power mower if your young child is in the yard. If your child mows the lawn, be sure you and they are familiar with these lawn mower safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children should never ride on rider mowers.

If you have an automatic garage door opener, make sure it reverses, is well balanced, and operates smoothly. Children have been killed and injured by automatic garage doors. If yours is not safe, you should have it serviced, or disconnect it and operate it by hand (be careful around moving parts to prevent pinching or crushing your hands). Make sure the switch and door opener are out of your child’s reach.

How can I prevent my child from drowning?

First of all, always watch children near water—ALWAYS.  Don’t let yourself get distracted.

Water safety at home is a matter of taking these three steps:

Pretty much anything in your home or yard that contains water could drown a child.  Babies and young children are at highest risk for drowning in small amounts of water because their heads are heavy, and they fall in easily.  To find potential dangers, walk your home and yard looking for the following:baby in tub with mom

Watch young children at all times when they are in the bathtub.  Don't leave them alone—not even for a second—not even with another child. You can't count on baby bath seats or rings to keep your baby safe in the tub. Set your water heater thermostat so that the hottest temperature at the faucet is 120 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid burns.

Find out more on YourChild: Water and Pool Safety.

How can I find out more about children and safety at home?

Visit these related topics on YourChild:

Check out this book: Consumer Reports Guide to Childproofing and Safety, by Jamie Schaefer-Wilson and the Editors of Consumer Reports.


References

Written and compiled by Kyla Boyse, R.N. Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan

Updated August 2009

U-M Health System Related Sites:
U-M Pediatrics

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