Recall prompts reminder on drop-side crib safety

Posted June 27, 2010, at 10:12 p.m.

Last week’s recall of more than 2 million cribs was a stark reminder: Mistakes in consumer products can’t be fixed by a single recall, refit or other corrective measure.

Instead, some harmful products may be around for years, despite manufacturers’ and regulators’ best efforts to fix the problem items or remove them from the market.

We’ve written before about the problems associated with drop-side cribs. Designed for parents’ convenience, the moveable sides can create choking-strangulation hazards or can trap children or allow them to fall.

Seven companies are involved in the voluntary recall: Child Craft (now out of business); Delta Enterprise Corp. of New York N.Y.; Evenflo of Miamisburg, Ohio; Jardine Enterprises of Taipei, Taiwan; LaJobi of Cranbury N.J.; Million Dollar Baby of Cranbury N.J.; and Simmons Juvenile Products Inc. (SJP) of New London, Wis.

These firms made recalled cribs between 2000 and 2009. The companies that are still in business have agreed to provide free repair kits or other ways to keep crib sides from falling, to consumers who request them.

Owners of such cribs should not use them until they have made the repairs. They should not attempt to make repairs themselves by other means.

Nine million drop-side cribs have been recalled in the past five years. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says drop-side cribs are generally less well-built than cribs with four fixed sides.

CPSC issued a warning last month advising parents and caregivers of the possibly deadly consequences from using drop-side cribs. That message is being echoed by the trade association of the resale industry.

NARTS, the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops, is urging buyers and sellers of used goods to take special notice of the cribs. While working to boost its members’ customer service and profits, NARTS also wants consumers and staff at resale shops to know about prior recalls and about other goods that may not meet safety standards. The association urges its members not to accept such goods, and if they make their way into their stores, to remove them.

Some cribs can become unsafe over time, simply through wear and tear. CPSC urges people not to use any crib older than 10 years. Such cribs may have multiple safety problems, and their owners may not be aware of these issues.

Cribs can be expensive, and people understandably are reluctant to throw them out. However, a crib that has been put away in an attic in anticipation of a family visit can be a potential threat to the health of a young visitor.

At the risk of hurting the feelings of a family member —intent on handing down an heirloom — remember the urging of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. If using an older crib, make sure it is properly assembled, has all its original parts, that it has not been recalled and meets all current safety standards.

For more on safe sleeping for infants, visit the association’s website at http://cribsafety.jpma.org/node/20.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit consumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for more information, write: Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, or go to http://necontact.wordpress.com.

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