Release date: April 1, 1982
Release number: 82-018

Release Details

The U.S, Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for children's toy chests with hinged lids because of a potential strangulation hazard.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking is the first step in a three-stage rulemaking process for a mandatory standard that can be terminated at any time, if a voluntary standard is determined to be feasible.

Until either a voluntary or mandatory standard can be developed for toy chests, the Commission warns parents and guardians of young children to be alert to the strangulation hazard associated with certain toy chests and other containers used to store toys in the home.

The agency's data indicate that since 1973 at least 21 reported fatalities and one incident of permanent brain damage have resulted from toy chest lids falling on children's heads or necks.

Trunks, footlockers, blanket chests and similar items with vertical opening, hinged lids also are being used to store toys in some homes and these products may present a similar hazard. The CPSC has three reports of fatalities associated with footlockers.

Most of the victims In these accidents were between the ages of 10 and 12 months. Typically, the accident occurred when the lid fell from the upright, open position, or when young children attempted to open the lids themselves. Children were reaching and into the chest when the lid dropped and either fell on their heads or trapped them at the neck between the lid and the edge of the chest.

To guard against such an accident, the CPSC recommends that parents and guardians of young children avoid any toy chest or other chest-type container used for storing toys which has a lid that can freely fall.

Some chests use lid supports intended to hold the lid open in any position. These supports may help prevent accidents because they would require an intentional pressure or push to close the lid. CPSC urges consumers to check such lid support devices, however. If the device is adjustable, such as a support which must be tightened with a screw, it will need to be tightened regularly to work effectively.

Open chests or bins which have no lids, chests with light-weight, completely removable lids, or chests with sliding doors or panels may be the surest way to eliminate the risk of a falling lid. If a chest or trunk does have a freely falling lid, CPSC recommends that parents completely remove the lid to avert possible tragedy.

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