OnSafety is the Official Blog Site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here you'll find the latest safety information as well as important messages that will keep you and your family safe. We hope you'll visit often!

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Liquid Laundry Packets: An Update

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single-use liquid laundry packetsAbout a year and a half ago, we began warning you about dangers connected to single-load liquid laundry packets. These packets are filled with highly concentrated, toxic chemicals. A 7-month-old in Florida died from swallowing the soap.

CPSC has received about 1,230 reports of children unintentionally injuring themselves with packets. Injuries include swallowing the detergent and getting the chemical in their eyes or on their skin. The Poison Help Line reports even more: Nearly 17,500.

Several companies that make these packets—Cot ‘n Wash, Dial, Procter & Gamble, and Sun Products—have agreed to make some changes to begin addressing these safety concerns. We want you to know about these changes, as CPSC was a driving force in making them happen. Importantly, though, we believe more must be done, and we’re continuing to call on companies to build more safety into these products more quickly and more robustly.

child warning label that appears on packages.Here are some of the changes so far:

Safety standards: Makers and sellers of laundry packets have come together, along with consumer advocates and CPSC staff, to start the process of creating a voluntary consensus standard. ASTM International, a standards setting organization, is overseeing this process. The goal is for all of the members to work together, as quickly as possible, to craft a strong safety standard that meaningfully protects children from these products.

Opaque packaging: Part of the allure of these packets for young children is that they can look like familiar items such as candy, toys and teething products. Companies have changed the containers that hold the packets to be opaque.

Labels and Warnings: “Keep Out of Reach of Children” and “Keep Contents Out of Eyes” safety warning stickers and graphics have been placed in multiple places on the containers. Also, look for posters and other warnings near laundry packets in stores. Warning labels alone are not the answer, but are part of a larger system of safety.

In addition, companies are researching a switch to containers that are more difficult for children to open. Safety latches—both on containers and on cabinets—can be a deterrent to children getting access to these packets. As with all household cleaning products, make sure to keep these packets tightly closed in the original containers and out of sight and out of reach of young children.

These companies also report that they are researching chemical formulations of the laundry detergent in the packets, with the goal to find formulations that remain effective, but are less toxic.

Our hope is that these first steps for these products make them safer and that all companies that make liquid laundry packets will join these safety efforts.

Follow these safety tips if you use these products in your home:

  • Do not let children handle laundry packets
  • Do not puncture or take packets apart
  • Do not leave loose packets around – keep them stored securely in the container
  • Store out of a child’s sight and reach in their original containers
  • Keep containers closed and dry
  • Read and follow package warnings and instructions

Remember, these packets can quickly dissolve upon contact with water, wet hands and saliva. They can also rupture, releasing the chemicals into eyes. If you or your child swallows or is exposed to these chemicals, call Poison Help immediately at (800) 222-1222.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/03/update-liquid-laundry-packets/

New Stroller and Carriage Safety Standard: What It Means

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Good news, parents! CPSC has approved a new federal safety standard that will improve the safety of all carriages and strollers sold after September 10, 2015.

From January 2008 through June 2013, CPSC staff received about 1,300 safety-related reports for children 4 years old and younger that involved strollers. The numbers, which may change in the future as more reports come into the agency, include:

  • Four deaths
  • 14 hospitalizations
  • Nearly 391 injuries

The new safety standard requires that all strollers and carriages be made, tested and labeled to minimize the hazards seen in the above incidents. These include:

  • Hinge issues that have resulted in pinched, cut, or amputated fingers or arms. These issues have the highest injury rate of all hazards associated with strollers;

  • Broken and detached wheels;
  • Parking brake failures;
  • Locking mechanism problems;
  • Restraint issues, including children being able to unbuckle themselves and broken and loose stroller seat belts;
  • Structural integrity; and
  • Stability

Once the rule takes effect, nearly all strollers sold are required to meet the new requirements. Here are just a few of the stroller types:

Different types of strollers including jogging strollers, double strollers, travel systems, single strollers, umbrella strollers, prams and wagon strollers.

Remember, buckle your child up every time you use the stroller and never leave a child unattended in a stroller. After all, falls are the cause of many injuries associated with strollers.

As Acting Chairman Bob Adler recently said, “I believe it is time that we put a strong mandatory standard in place: A federal standard that helps to ensure that a stroller ride is a safe ride for babies and an equally safe ride for toddlers.”

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/03/new-stroller-and-carriages-safety-standard-what-it-means/

Developers: We’ve Got a Challenge for You!

Safety APP_BlogHow many consumers know that you can go online and tell the government about consumer product safety problems that you encounter?

How many of you know that you can search those reports before you spend your own money on a particular product?

Since the launch of SaferProducts.gov in March 2011, more than 18,000 product safety reports have been submitted to CPSC. The site gets about 200,000 visits every month.

Those numbers are a good start. But we want to do better. That’s where you come in.

Help us!

The Consumer Product Safety Apps Challenge is simple: Create apps and innovative tools that raise awareness of these reports and of consumer product recalls.

You can get the reports through our SaferProducts API. The recalls API is here.

Mash up the information with product review sites, auction sites and search. Get creative and come up with the next brilliant idea for educating consumers about product safety.

Your reward? You can put on your resume that you built something that saved lives and prevented injuries. Plus, you get to meet our Acting Chairman and take home $1,000. We’ll feature the four winners in a live webcast award ceremony (archived on YouTube), where you’ll get to show off your work.

The complete contest and rules are available at Productsafetyapps.challengepost.com

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/02/developers-weve-got-a-challenge-for-you/

CPSC Infographic: Portable Generator-Related Deaths

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This infographic is also posted on CPSC’s Flickr page for easy sharing.

portable generator death information

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/02/cpsc-infographic-portable-generator-related-deaths/

Winter Weather Alert: Generators

Update: Jan. 6, 2014: Winter weather and extreme cold have been crossing the U.S. If you lose power, keep portable generators outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors. See below for more safety information. If you use a space heater to stay warm, follow these tips.

First Posted: Dec. 6, 2013

Dangerous ice and snow is sweeping across the plains, south, and heading east.  There are expected to be widespread power outages associated with this large storm.

Are you planning on using a portable gas generator to help you during or after the storm this week?

When dealing with severe winter weather and power outages some people take unnecessary risks. Do not take extra risks with your generator. It can be deadly. (Take a look at this infographic to see just how deadly.) Its invisible odorless CO exhaust can kill you and your family in just minutes.

Be safe. Put your generator:

  • OUTSIDE! Keep it at least 20 feet* away from windows and doors.
  • Do NOT put generators in garages or basements. An open door does NOT provide enough ventilation to save you from deadly carbon monoxide gas.

When you use a generator, be sure to have a working CO alarm in your home. (Note: You should do this anyway.)

Finally, know the initial symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness.

Get outside into fresh air quickly and call 911 immediately. Know what to do.

* Minimum distance recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s more information on carbon monoxide.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2014/01/winter-weather-alert-generators/