2010-11-19 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

Hidden Household Hazards – Cords And Furniture Tip-overs
By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

AUDREY PHEFFER AUDREY PHEFFER The birth of a child is a wonderful, life-changing event that brings much happiness and pride to the mother and father. Of course, as all parents are aware, adding a new member to the family also means new responsibilities, including providing for the care and safety of the baby. In preparation for the arrival of their bundle of joy, parents are advised to scour their living space for any hazards that could pose a risk. While some hazards, such as uncovered electrical outlets, cleaning supplies left under the kitchen sink, and red-hot stove burners, have all been well-documented, some potential risks are less known, including dangers posed by cords and furniture that is prone to tipping. Fortunately, parents and caregivers can take a number of precautions to eliminate these hazards in order to help ensure that their homes remain a safe environment for children.

In today’s modern household brimming with electronics and appliances, cords abound. Power and connection cords situated within reach of a crawling or toddling child should be pulled taught and tied back so as to prevent the formation of loops, which can become wrapped around a child’s neck, posing a strangulation hazard. Parents should also take caution when placing consumer products with cords, such as baby monitors, near a child’s crib. Since 2004, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received six reports of infants strangled by baby monitor cords. To eliminate this hazard, parents should consider cordless baby monitors. If you are currently using a monitor with a cord, be sure to keep the monitor and its cord out of arm’s reach of your child.

Certain window coverings, in particular those manufactured before 2001, may also pose a threat to children. Numerous child strangulation injuries have been attributed to looped cords dangling below window shades, blinds and drapes, and several makes and models of window coverings have been recalled. In July of this year alone, over one million roman and roller window shades were recalled due to strangulation hazards posed by unsafe cords. Experts recommend that parents install cordless window coverings in their child’s bedroom and sleeping areas. Older corded window coverings present in the remainder of the house should be retrofitted to eliminate strangulation hazards. An industry organization known as the Window Covering Safety Council provides consumers with window covering retrofit kits and safety brochures free of charge. To order a retrofit kit, visit the Council’s website at: http://www.win dowcoverings.org/ or call: 212-297- 2100.

Furniture tipping hazards are another threat that can be overlooked by parents. Each year an estimated 3,000 children are injured in incidents involving falling furniture and appliances. Curious young ones climbing on bookcases, entertainment centers, or television stands can cause unstable consumer products to tumble. Parents should check the stability of all furniture, especially pieces holding heavy electronic equipment, such as televisions or stereo systems, and consider installing anti-tipping devices to firmly anchor certain pieces of furniture and appliances. The Committee reported legislation, which I sponsor along with my colleague, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, that would require manufacturers of certain household products to attach a warning to the products alerting consumers to the danger of tipping and possibility of injury as well as the existence of antitipping products. For more information about potential household hazards and childproofing your home, you may view the CPSC’s online brochure on the subject at: http://www.cpsc.gov/ cpscpub/pubs/ 252.pdf or call 1-800- 638-2772 to request a printed copy.

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