It's time for spring cleaning, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging Americans to join its "recall round-up" of 12 hazardous products still found in millions of homes. Most of these have been involved in children's deaths. The goal of this recall round-up is to convince consumers to throw away, repair, or replace these hazardous products. Despite recall notices and public warnings, CPSC believes that many products with the potential to seriously injure or kill are still being used by consumers.
In some states, local health departments and safety organizations are holding news conferences to help find these hazardous products.
"As families do their spring cleaning, we want them to take a fresh look at items in their homes such as appliances, window blinds, older cribs, storage chests, and halogen lamps to make sure the products have not been recalled and don't present hazards," said CPSC Acting Chairman Thomas Moore. "We can get dangerous products off store shelves, but the real challenge is to get them out of families' homes."
Today, CPSC is launching this year's recall round-up with a news conference and release of a "Recall List" of products.
"CPSC sometimes learns of deaths or serious injuries caused by previously recalled products. We want to prevent these needless tragedies," said Moore. "We urge people to get CPSC's list of recalls and check for old products that could be hazardous." Consumers can log onto https://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx to get automatic announcements of all future CPSC-announced recalls.
Some of the hazardous products that might be in consumers' homes are:
- GE and Hotpoint dishwashers that present a fire hazard. General Electric Appliances Co. is voluntarily offering a free repair option in the form of a rewiring for its recalled GE and Hotpoint dishwashers. With the free rewire option, a GE-authorized technician will rewire the slide switch at no cost to consumers. This supplements the original rebate program which the company offered. The dishwashers have a slide switch that can melt and ignite, presenting a fire hazard. CPSC is aware of approximately 90 incidents associated with these dishwashers. GE manufactured 3.1 million of these dishwashers between 1983 and 1989. Call GE at (800) 599-2929.
- Whirlpool (Kenmore) dishwashers that present a fire hazard. Whirlpool Corporation is providing free repair for Whirlpool and Kenmore brand dishwashers. Whirlpool sold 500,000 of the recalled dishwashers from June 1991 through October 1992. Wiring in the door latch may overheat and catch fire. There have been over 40 reports of fires with these dishwashers. Owners of both brands should call (800) 874-9481 for the free repair.
- Window blind cords with loops that can strangle children. Window blinds may have pull cords and inner cords that can form a loop and cause strangulation if children become entangled in the pull cords or the inner cords. CPSC knows of 130 strangulation deaths to children since 1991. In 1995, CPSC worked with the industry to eliminate the pull cord loops on new window blinds. However, old window blinds with looped pull cords and inner cords must be repaired. There were about 85 million units sold each year. Call the Window Covering Safety Council for free repair kit: (800) 506-4636, or go to their web site: www.windowcoverings.org
- Halogen torchiere floor lamps that can cause fires when combustibles such as drapes come too close to the bulb. These lamps need a wire or glass guard to help reduce the fire risk. Over 40 million halogen floor lamps made before 1997 by numerous firms were recalled because they have no guard to protect against fire. CPSC knows of 270 fires and 19 deaths since 1992 related to halogen torchiere floor lamps. People can get the wire guards by sending a postcard to Attention Consumer Services, 18191 NW 68th Avenue, Miami, FL 33015.
- Playpens that can collapse and entrap a child in the V-shape folded top rails. The top rails must be turned to set up the playpen. CPSC is aware of 15 deaths to children when the top rails of playpens collapsed. A new industry standard requires that the top rails of these playpens automatically lock into place when the playpen is fully set up. CPSC obtained voluntary recalls of the following playpens with top rails that people had to turn into place when setting up the playpen: Evenflo "Happy Camper," "Happy Cabana," and "Kiddie Camper;" Century "Fold-N-Go" Models 10-710 and 10-810; Baby Trend "Home and Roam," and "Baby Express;" and Kolcraft "Playskool Travel-Lite Model." CPSC also issued a safety warning about "All Our Kids" Models 742 and 762 playpens imported by a firm that is out of business.
- Cosco Playpens models "Zip n Go," "Okie Dokie," and "Carters" manufactured by Cosco and recalled by Dorel Juvenile Group, have plastic tabs on the playpen that lock the rails into the corners. The plastic tabs can break or loosen over time, allowing the rails to turn inward, collapse, and entrap an infant. There were 102,000 playpens sold from May 1995 through December 1999. There were 421 reports of rails not locking or collapsing; 1 death to a baby whose chest was caught in the V-shape created by the collapsed sides of his playpen. Contact Dorel Juvenile Group to get a refund or replacement product at 800-314-9327 or www.djgusa.com
- Lane Cedar chests with lids that automatically lock when closed made by The Lane Co. between 1912 and 1987 and sold under the "Lane" and "Virginia Maid" brands. CPSC and Lane are aware of 12 children (5 in the last year) suffocating inside the chests when the lid closed and automatically latched. Only those made between 1912 and 1987 are involved. Contact the company to get a free replacement lock to prevent entrapment. Call (888) 856-8758 or go to http://www.lanefurniture.com
- Old cribs made before CPSC and industry safety standards can entrap, strangle, or suffocate children. Old cribs with: more than 2-3/8 inches between crib slats; corner posts; or cut-outs on the headboard or footboard, present suffocation and strangulation hazards. Cribs with missing or broken parts also present a risk of death. CPSC estimates there are 32 deaths per year in cribs, many of which are older, used models. Destroy old cribs and those with missing or broken parts. Get a crib that meets current safety standards.
- Old chest freezers made between 1945 and 1970 have heavy lids that latch. Children can suffocate in old chest freezers (and in other products with heavy lids that latch). CPSC knows of 27 deaths between 1980 and 1999 in old chest freezers. Destroy the old freezer, take the door off, or remove the latch. Call (800) 267-3138 or http://www.aham.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/586
- Hairdryers without immersion protection devices to prevent electric shock. Since the early 1990s, hairdryers have had built-in shock protection devices to prevent electrocution if submerged in water. However, electrocutions from old hairdryers are still occasionally reported. Replace the old hairdryer with a new one with a large rectangular plug and the mark of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Old multi-purpose lighters that are not child-resistant. CPSC set a standard (effective December 22, 2000) requiring multi-purpose lighters to be child-resistant. These lighters, also known as grill lighters, fireplace lighters, utility lighters, micro-torches, or gas matches, are used to light candles, charcoal, campfires and stoves, fuel-fired appliances, and pilot lights. Over a 12-year period, these multi-purpose lighters were used by children under age 5 to ignite at least 237 fires, resulting in 45 deaths and 103 injuries. Throw away the non-child-resistant lighters and replace hem with child-resistant multi-purpose lighters.
- Drawstrings around the neck on children's jackets and sweatshirts can catch and strangle children. In 1995, CPSC worked with industry to eliminate hood and neck drawstrings on kids' jackets and sweatshirts. CPSC knows of 23 deaths and 56 non-fatal incidents from 1985 through November 2000. Pull out or cut all neck drawstrings on children's jackets and sweatshirts. Do not sell them at garage sales or give them to thrift stores. In 1998, CPSC found that many thrift stores were selling recalled, hazardous products.
CPSC's toll-free telephone hotline and web site provide information about recalled products and information on what to look for when buying products. Consumers can reach the hotline at 800-638-2772 or visit the web site at www.cpsc.gov. Consumers can get a list of major recalls here or get it by sending a postcard to "Recall List," CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.