As you’re driving to preschool, you catch the news: Another major car seat recall. You glance at your toddler in the rearview mirror and wonder if she’s safe.
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You can’t anticipate which products will get recalled. You can, however, practice safety-conscious shopping and poise yourself for quick action in the event of a recall. Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatrician Amy Sniderman, MD, offers the following action plan to help parents manage recalls and product safety questions.
- Be proactive
The Unites States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) oversees all consumer product recalls and provides child project safety standards, including recent updates for infant bedside sleepers and play yards. Check CPSC.gov for recalled product information. Also, many larger-ticket children’s products, like furniture, strollers and car seats, come with a recall alert postcard. Dr. Sniderman advises mailing these cards back to the manufacturer or registering online to receive any future recall alerts.
- Check large and small
Don’t overlook recalls on small toys. A problem with a teddy bear or rattle can be just as dangerous as a faulty high chair if a child pulls off a tiny piece and chokes, reminds Dr. Sniderman. Be sure to check all furniture, toys and gear at least every couple months, or per manufacturer’s instructions, for loose screws or broken parts. Make sure that they are in good working order. Don’t try to repair a damaged item yourself, says Dr. Sniderman.
- Repair or replace
Not all recalls call for discontinued use or complete replacement of a product. Sometimes a recall simply instructs a parent to remove a stray piece of fabric that can come loose, or order a repair kit or replacement part. Individual recall information will include instructions on how and where to replace the item or get a repair kit.
- Buyer beware
While it is illegal to re-sell a recalled item, not all sellers are savvy to this. If accepting handed-down items or hitting yard sales for used items, keep in mind the possibility of past recalls and inspect for broken parts. Parents can look up past recalls at CPSC.gov. If you have any questions about the safety and durability of a used product, recalled or not, check directly with the manufacturer.
Also, in the last several years, CPSC has issued new product safety standards for many children’s products, including cribs and play yards. So, older items may not offer the same level of safety as newly manufactured items. New parents should take note of several basic product design flaws that led to mass recalls across many brands in the last several years, including drop-side cribs, Roman shades and hooded sweatshirts with drawstring ties.
- Shop for quality
Seek quality and value. Buying the most expensive product does not offer a guarantee against recall. Dr. Sniderman suggests consulting consumer guides and parent reviews when shopping for baby gear. Buy items rated high for safety, ease of assembly and use and wear over time.
- Look beyond the nursery
CPSC monitors all consumer products, not just children’s items. Important recalls include general goods, like hope chests lacking safety hinges and laundry detergent pods, which can be especially dangerous to small children. Check recalls.gov for recall information on other items including boats, motor vehicles, medicines, cosmetics, food and environmental products.