According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, unintentional injuries are the number one killer of children in today's society. These injuries are frequently the result of faulty equipment or using toys that are inappropriate for a specific age group. As a caregiver, it is your responsibility to ensure that children are given the opportunity to learn and play in a safe, age-appropriate setting. When products are found to have faults--even products by manufacturers that you have grown to trust--it is imperative that you take immediate steps to avoid injury or harm. You can stay current on child product safety recalls and further protect the children in your care by using the following strategies.
In recent years, cribs, walkers, strollers, and car seats all have been recalled because of safety compliance issues. In November 2002, baby walkers, infant swings sold through a national toy chain, and plush dolls marketed by a well known and respected corporation were just a few of the items pulled from circulation because of safety hazards. Although manufacturers have made significant strides in promoting safer toys and equipment, unpredictable faults can occur. By maintaining an awareness of current safety issues, you are ensuring a safer, healthier childcare environment.
Staying on top of product recalls can seem overwhelming, however. Rather than trying to manage this task yourself, refer to one of the following resources for current recall information:
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) web site, www.cpsc.gov, should be your first stop for information about child product safety recalls. In addition to the main recall pages, this organization has developed a Kidd Safety Web page to provide information about playground safety and other equipment issues.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Healthy Child Care America website, www.healthychildcare.org, offers policy statements or recommendations for child product use and often addresses product recall information on its web site. In addition, its Healthy Child Care America program provides a listing of childcare health consultants by state and offers resources, such as car safety seat guidance and warnings against soft bedding and baby walkers.
- The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) provides information about safety issues related to bedding, changing tables, cribs, and various infant and toddler toys and equipment through its website, www.jpma.org. The JPMA, in association with the CPSC and other consumer groups, promotes a certification system for ensuring the best and safest child products on the market. Specifications for this system can be found on the organization's website.
- The National Safe Kids Campaign is dedicated to providing information about children's product recalls in three-month increments. The National Safe Kids Campaign promotes fact sheets, news releases, and expert interviews that address current safety issues. In addition, its website, www.safekids.org, provides information about state childcare regulations, coalitions, and events in your area. You can even learn about international childhood injury prevention programs through SAFE KIDS Worldwide, a network of international organizations and communities that promote in-depth marketing campaigns to protect children from harm.
- The Toy Industry Association, www.toy-tia.org, representing more than 250 manufacturers and toy importers. This organization provides a safety hotline that identifies manufacturer names and contact information and offers advice on the age-appropriateness of specific toys. Its purpose is to provide adequate information about toy safety and tips for maintaining a safe play environment, while also ensuring that toys are properly used.
- The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring that foods are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled. It also oversees medicines, medical devices (from bandages to artificial hearts), blood products, vaccines, cosmetics, veterinary drugs, animal feed, and electronic products that emit radiation (such as microwave ovens and video monitors), ensuring that these products are safe and effective. The FDA provides up-to-the-minute information on recalls of products and medications that can cause serious health problems and even death. You can learn more about current recalls at www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html. Consumers can play an important public health role by reporting to the FDA any adverse reactions or other problems with products the agency regulates.
Handling a Product Recall
When you find out that a product has been recalled, remove the product from your childcare environment immediately and contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or other organizations mentioned previously for recommendations of replacement products. If you are experiencing problems with a product that has not been recalled or feel that it is unsafe, be sure to report your concerns to the CPSC through its online submission form. Doing so helps prevent injury to other children and sends a message to the manufacturer that its product is not meeting the required safety standards.
Safety is a key component of childcare. By remaining knowledgeable about recalls, you are helping to prevent future injury and possibly even saving the lives of children.
Diona L. Reeves
Health Communications Specialist, CYKE, Inc.
American Academy of Pediatrics, 141 Northwest Point Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098; 847-434-4000; www.aap.org and www.healthychildcare.org
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, 17000 Commerce Pkwy., Ste. C, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054; 856-638-0420; www.jpma.org
National SAFE KIDS Campaign, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Ste. 1000, Washington, DC 20004; 202-662-0600; www.safekids.org
Toy Industry Association, 1115 Broadway St., Ste. 400, New York, NY 10010; 212-675-1141, www.toy-tia.org
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, D.C. 20207-0001; 301-504-6816; www.cpsc.gov
U.S. Federal Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville MD 20857-0001; 888-463-6332; www.fda.gov