The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's toll free ""HOTLINE"" recently completed its first full year of operation having logged nearly 60,000 calls from consumers during that period.
Calls to the "HOTLINE" have ranged from requests for information about product safety to reports of product-related accidents and complaints about the safety of a consumer product. Large metropolitan areas including New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Atlanta have generated the largest volume of calls to the "HOTLINE" which operates nationwide on a 24-hour basis.
Actions by the Commission to ban or recall a hazardous product have at times been triggered by calls received over the "HOTLINE." One such incident involved a consumer who called the "HOTLINE" to report the death of a Florida man who had been allegedly electrocuted by a trouble light he was using.
A subsequent investigation by the Commission revealed that the trouble light had exposed electrical conductors which posed the threat of electrocution to persons using the product. As a result, the Commission took steps to have the manufacturer, distributors and retailers recall the hazardous trouble light and ban it from further sale.
Peak calling times for the "HOTLINE" usually occur during heavy volume buying periods, such as holidays or whenever the Commission issues a warning about a hazardous product. During the 1974 Christmas season, for example, the "HOTLINE" received over 5,000 calls in two days from consumers concerning a particular brand of Christmas tree lights which were being recalled.
On occasion, the "HOTLINE" becomes the target of non-product safety related calls. Like the time a consumer called the "HOTLINE" complaining that the hairspray his wife had been using was making her schizophrenic. Later the wife called the "HOTLINE" to apologize for the actions of her husband who she said had been undergoing psychiatric care.
The "HOTLINE" has been described as an "instant two-way communication system" between the Commission and the consumer. But this is true only if consumers make use of it. To report a product-related injury, product hazard or to request information on product safety, consumers may call the toll free "HOTLINE" number from anywhere in the Continental U.S. 800/638-2772.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.
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