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Child Product and Safety News - 2018
Safe Kids, CPSC, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Toy Association Team Up On Toy Safety
In time for the holiday toy-shopping season, Safe Kids joined with CPSC Acting Commissioner Ann Marie Buerkle as well as representatives from the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Toy Association in a statement to educate parents on making smart toy-purchasing decisions. Chief Advocacy and Network Officer Tony Green noted a continuing trend of improving toy safety, citing fewer recalls and successes seizing dangerous toys at ports. He also gave pointers for parents looking for safe toys this holiday season, encouraging them to “give the gift of safety by following age-specific guidelines” and to keep in mind that “toys intended for older kids may pose a risk to younger, curious siblings”.
New Regulatory Changes Proposed on E-Cigarettes, Menthol Cigarettes
Just before Thanksgiving, the FDA announced a proposal for major new regulations that would effectively ban retail sales of flavored e-cigarette products in convenience stores and gas stations. Although stores could continue to sell these flavored products under the proposed rules, they would be required to do so from areas closed-off to minors. The agency also proposed a ban on menthol flavored cigarettes, a move which tobacco companies have vowed to fight. Meanwhile, lawyers representing the National Association of Convenience Stores have questioned the legality of the new e-cigarette regulation. All this comes on the heels of a growing awareness that e-cigarette use is rising at alarming rates among minors, with FDA data showing some 3.6 million kids under 18 reportedly using the products.
FDA Issues New Guidance on Mandatory Food Safety Recalls
FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb released a statement reiterating the agency’s commitment to using its mandatory recall authority when necessary to keep the U.S. food supply safe. This statement is timed to concur with issuance of guidelines for industry about how that authority will be used. It follows a series of high-profile food safety outbreaks and recalls this year including the current E. Coli outbreak affecting romaine lettuce. Dr. Gottlieb noted that most companies work diligently with the FDA to manage recalls, while promising a strong and transparent approach to those that do not. The FDA gained mandatory recall authority under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, prior to which the agency was largely reliant on manufacturers to issue recalls voluntarily.
Safe Kids Testifies Before DC Council on Babyproofing Bill
Washington DC Councilman Robert White introduced the Babies Safe at Home Act, B22-0958, which would help parents babyproof their homes with $1,000 grants. Safe Kids Worldwide offered testimony in favor of the bill by Dr. Sadiqa Kendi of Children National Health Systems (CNHS) and Safe Kids Worldwide’s medical director. Safe Kids’ Anthony Green delivered the testimony at a hearing on December 3 chaired by Councilwoman Anita Bonds. He was joined by CNHS pediatric care nurse Cindy Colson. The Safe Kids testimony said, “The grant program would mean that a parent need not make a choice between a new pair of shoes or a window guard; a worry-free smoke alarm or a car seat.” Ms. Colson showed the council a home safety kit which Safe Kids DC distributed in its home safety awareness program.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Releases 11th Annual Safe Shopping Guide
For 11 years, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has released an annual Safe Shopping Guide in time to help parents find safe holiday gifts for children. The guide details all the dangerous children’s products and toys that were recalled this year, and which parents should avoid. Hazards parents should be especially vigilant for include small parts which can detach and pose a choking hazard to young children, and lead paint or parts in children’s toys or furniture. The Safe Shopping Guide is easy to reference, broken down into individual sections for Toys, Clothing & Accessories, and Baby products. For more information on toy recalls and product safety, you can also visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
CPSC Stepping Up Efforts on Child-Resistant Packaging
Recently, we have reported on a comparatively large number of product recalls for failure to meet the federal child resistant packaging standards, including products that contain Lidocaine, a pain-relieving ointment. One recall involved Desert Harvest’s Relévum Skin Repair Cream, which came in a pump container, easily accessible to a child. Another product recalled was Uber Numb cream, which can be simply unscrewed. This is part of a targeted enforcement by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require adherence to the federal Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA).
“Safewise” Ranks States on the Carbon Monoxide Risk
As the temperature drops, the dangers families face from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning grows. So, it’s just in time that Safewise.com gave us a state-by-state ranking of CO risk. It’s called the silent killer because it’s odorless and invisible. Moreover, the symptoms are similar to those of the flu — headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath — just when flu season is picking up. Check out where your state ranks and make sure the batteries on your CO alarms are working. Predictably, the most dangerous states are cold weather states because they see the most use of gas generators and appliances, frequently linked to CO poisoning in homes: Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and Nebraska. Who’s most at risk from CO poisoning? Kids, pregnant women and senior citizens.
Leagues Bench Laws to Tackle Youth Concussions, says California NBC Report
A special NBC Bay Area investigative report reveals that children’s sports leagues throughout California are trying to end run around state laws aimed to protect young athletes from brain injuries. The laws require, for example, an athlete to be pulled from play if a hard tackle could have caused a concussion, and the athlete demonstrates the signs and symptoms of concussion. “The danger is that athletes go back to play too soon and they get another blow to the head or the body which causes the brain to move again and then their symptoms get worse – worse is that they die,” said Dr. Cindy Chiang, co-director of the UCSF-Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland Sports Concussion Program and the one-time chief medical officer for the USA’s Olympic Team.
California Legal Marijuana in Individual Dose Packages Puts Kids at Risk, Doctor Says
Sacramento physician Donald Lyman says that at least one regulation set under California’s new laws legalizing recreational marijuana puts kids at risk of marijuana poisoning. The new Bureau of Cannabis Control does not require child resistant packaging for individual doses, only “child-proof” bags for an entire purchase. Dr. Lyman favored the proposition legalizing marijuana but believes careful safeguards are necessary to protect kids.
Worst U.S. Transportation Crash Since 2009 Encourages Tougher Rear Passenger Buckle Up Laws
Following an upstate New York limousine crash which killed 20 people on their way to a birthday party, momentum is building for state laws requiring everyone in a motor vehicle to be buckled up: drivers and passengers; front and back seat; every time and every ride. New York State does not require rear seat riders to be buckled up despite calls for such a law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in early 2018. Beyond New York, 21 other states do not require rear seat buckling up. When asked about such legislation in Connecticut, NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said, “The NTSB believes that a significant number of lives can be saved and injuries prevented if Connecticut closes this loophole in its occupant restraint law.”
Electric Scooter Company Lime Recalls Scooters Because of Fire Risk
The Washington Post reported that Lime which runs large fleets of electric scooters in cities had to pull about 2,000 of its scooters from streets because their batteries could catch on fire. The recall impacted service in LA, San Diego and Lake Tahoe. While the company says that no riders were in jeopardy, Lime acknowledged that some of its scooters have other problems: vulnerable to battery failure and some can crack or break if ridden off a curb at high speed. Lime learned of the problem from employee whistleblowers.
Surprise FDA Inspection at JUUL HQ Highlights Growing Vape Industry Scrutiny
On Friday, September 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an unannounced inspection of Juul Labs headquarters in San Francisco. The company, maker of the JUUL e-cigarette which is hugely popular amongst teens, is currently facing a wave of negative publicity and attention from federal regulators. This pushback has centered primarily around how their products are marketed, with critics alleging the company deliberately targets minors and young people. The company handed over more than 50,000 pages of internal documents during the inspection. Meanwhile, Juul Labs is still on the clock to provide a plan to the FDA as to how it will limit teenagers’ access to its products, which now control 72 percent of the US e-cigarette market.
Bipartisan Senate Bill Introduced to Improve Furniture Flammability Standards
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-OR) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) recently introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at improving national flammability standards for furniture by incorporating more stringent standards already existing in California. The bill, cleverly known as Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act or SOFFA, would lay out enhanced standards for testing furniture materials, and is supported by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA). AHFA CEO Andy Counts praised SOFFA, saying that it would simplify and improve national standards while leaving room for the CPSC to adopt future rules as fire safety technology develops. A companion bill was introduced in the House last November by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA).
On International Walk To School Day, Safe Kids Educates Students on Pedestrian Safety
October 10 was International Walk to School Day, and Safe Kids coalitions across the country celebrated by hosting events to get kids excited about walking and being active. Safe Kids DC, FedEx and local law enforcement teamed up to cheer on the students of KiPP Academy as they arrived at school in the morning, with a special guest appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog. Clifford had a busy morning, also appearing at Jefferson Elementary in Richland, WA, with further sightings reported at Walk to School Day events nationwide. Meanwhile, Safe Kids Washoe County near Reno, NV organized events at three different elementary schools, with support from their local FedEx. Thanks to everyone who organized and came out to all the Walk to School Day events, and great job!
Halloween Season Means Time to Think Pedestrian Safety; Walk This Way
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s a good time to talk safety with kids of all ages. On average, children are twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween than any other day. But with some creative thinking and Safe Kids’ Halloween safety tips, you can make sure your family has a scary good holiday. Make sure that trick or treating costumes have a reflective component to make them more visible to drivers, or consider giving kids glow sticks to carry. As always, appropriate adult supervision is important, especially for younger children who may not understand how to stay safe as a pedestrian on their own.
Injuries Increase as E-Scooter Craze Spreads Across the US; 161 Percent Spike in Utah
Dockless E-Scooter sharing services like Bird and Lime have become ubiquitous in recent months, popping up in new cities overnight and leaving safety advocates concerned. Injuries from them are becoming more common in emergency rooms. Many e-scooter riders don’t wear a helmet, and now early injury data is beginning to reflect that hazard. In Salt Lake City, the University of Utah’s ER data shows a 161 percent spike in visits involving scooters when comparing the last three months to the same time period last year. Dr. Troy Madsen described these numbers as a likely underestimate, noting they reflect only the most severely injured riders and don’t capture those treated at other local ERs. Scooter companies have made recent efforts to encourage helmet use, some offering programs to give helmets to riders to request them, and others requiring in-app “training” on helmet safety, although it is difficult to tell how effective these measures have been.
Five Pool Safely Grants Awarded by Consumer Product Safety Commission
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) announced $1 million dollars in grants to prevent pool and spa drownings, as well as drain entrapments. The awards were made under the 10-year-old Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act which Wasserman Schultz fought for and was championed by Safe Kids Worldwide. The awards were made to the City of Bridgeport, CT; the District of Columbia Department of Health; the DuPage County, Illinois Health Department, and the state health departments in Florida and Louisiana.
Counterfeit Bike Helmets Cause Concern
They are cheap. That’s because they are fake. In three tests with crash dummies, the bike helmets failed each time, one of them cracking in half. One tell-tale sign that you have purchased a fake bike helmet is that it does not have a sticker certifying it meets Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. There are reports that the counterfeit helmets were sold on eBay and, earlier in the year, a man was convicted in Kentucky for selling fake helmets.
Senate Confirms New CPSC Commissioner, Peter Feldman
The U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of Peter Feldman as a new CPSC Commissioner. Previously, Feldman was senior counsel to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Feldman has served as a key advisor on consumer product safety, data security, and privacy issues to U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. He also worked on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, the landmark safety bill that addresses safety regulations to protect young children (see above awards).
Safe Kids Legislative Work on Window Falls and Bike Helmets
It is estimated that 4,700 kids sustain injuries each year from window fall incidents. The current building code contains a loophole that allows a window to be fully opened, resulting in injuries and death among young children. We recommend two changes to close the loophole and keep kids safer. Safe Kids is working with the National Association for Child Window Safety on this effort. Previously, we successfully worked with advocates on legislation to make military housing safer to prevent window falls, based on a tragedy that occurred in Hawaii. A letter to the International Code Council was signed by 29 state and local Safe Kids coalition and the national office. In addition, eleven Safe Kids coalitions in California advocated for a more effective state bike helmet law in that state and successfully urged Governor Brown to sign the law.
State of America’s Health: Mixed Data on Unintentional Injuries
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate for unintentional injury among children 1-14 years has decreased by 6.8 percent each year between 2006 and 2010 and remained stable from 2010 to 2016. It remains the number one killer of kids for kids 1-14 and also people 15-24. The infant mortality rate from unintentional injuries increased by 24 percent between 2005 and 2015—in 2016, unintentional injuries accounted for 30.3 percent of the deaths in this age group. Preventing unintentional injury death is Safe Kids’ mission. The report is called “Health, United States, 2017, with Special Feature on Mortality.”
Safe Kids Unveils New Car Seat Check-Up Search Feature
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve child passenger safety and to connect parents with car seat check resources, Safe Kids has added a new car seat check search feature to our website. This tool enables users to enter their state and find the nearest car seat inspection station to make an appointment at an inspection stations or attend a car seat check-up event. You can also use the page to register your car seat, an important step to make sure you’ll be notified if your car seat is recalled. Don’t forget to sign up for Safe Kids’ monthly child passenger safety e-newsletter while you’re there!
Danish Regulators Ban “Squishy” Toys After Uncovering Hazardous Chemical Levels
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency recently banned the sale of popular “squishy” foam toys, after an investigation determined they emit high levels of multiple chemicals linked to health hazards for children. This investigation, opened in March, grew out of officials’ suspicion at the odors and scents put out by some of the toys. The Danes found that all the toys they tested emit chemicals at concentrations high enough to put children at risk simply being in the child’s bedroom. Some of the chemicals uncovered are carcinogens, while others pose a risk of liver damage or impaired fertility. These inexpensive “Squishy” toys are popular in the United States too, available on Amazon for as little as $14 for a pack of 30 toys.
CDC Unveils New Guidelines for Diagnosing and Treating Concussions in Young Athletes
As fall sports seasons across the country are kicking off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a new set of guidelines for diagnosing, treating, and managing mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs), also known as concussions, in children. The development of such guidelines specifically for children represents a major step forward in dealing with one of the most common youth sports injuries, and one that has historically been poorly understood. The guidelines are not only designed for physicians examining and diagnosing young athletes, but also include tips for parents to help a concussed athlete recover and return to school and play at the appropriate pace.
House Fire in Chicago Kills 10 Children, No Smoke Alarms Found
The city of Chicago is still coming to grips with a recent house fire in the city’s Little Village neighborhood that claimed the lives of 10 children, ranging from infancy to 16 years old. The specific cause of the fire is still unknown, but investigators quickly established that the structure had no smoke detectors despite being required by law. It was also discovered that the building had been subject to several code violations in recent years. The children, members of 2 extended families, were described as a close-knit bunch that had gathered that night for a sleepover to celebrate the end of summer. In the wake of this tragedy, Safe Kids wrote a blog post, providing information on the incident and important fire safety strategies.
American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Child Passenger Safety Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated its recommendations on child passenger safety for infants, to bring them in line with the latest research in the field. The AAP’s previous recommendation was that infants should ride in a rear-facing car seat until age 2, or they reach the car seat manufacturer’s maximum height or weight. Their new recommendation is that parents keep their infants rear-facing for as long as possible in those same seats, within the manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations. According to Dr. Benjamin Hoffmann, chair of AAP’s Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, “It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way to ride”.
Safe Kids Unveils New Car Seat Check-Up Search Feature
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve child passenger safety and to connect parents with car seat check resources, Safe Kids has added a new car seat check search feature to our website. This tool enables users to enter their state and find the nearest car seat inspection station to make an appointment, or a car seat check-up event near them. You can also use the page to register your car seat, an important step to make sure you’ll be notified if your car seat is recalled. Don’t forget to sign up for Safe Kids’ monthly child passenger safety e-newsletter while you’re there!
Product Safety Law’s 10-year Birthday Celebrated
Safety organizations including Safe Kids joined together to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and promote awareness about preventing injury from defective and dangerous products. The law dramatically increased the responsibilities and power of the CPSC to prevent product injuries, especially involving products in a child’s environment. The law spurred action on cribs, bassinets, high chairs, strollers and the use of lead in products such as children’s jewelry. Safe Kids marked the anniversary with a blog and a Twitter survey on what consumers think should come next in making products safer. A pediatrician at Children’s National Health System, Dr. Lenore Jarvis, wrote a blog about child consumer product protection on momsrising.org.
Autonomous Vehicles: Governor’s Highway Safety Group Urges Best Practices for State Laws
The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) issued a report providing states with suggestions on laws they should set for the operation of autonomous vehicles. They propose requiring a license for operators of self-driving cars, updating traffic laws to accommodate autonomous vehicles and protocols for law enforcement agencies. “Imperfect human drivers aren’t disappearing anytime soon and even with self-driving technology, they will still be in a position to cause crashes, deaths, and injuries on our roads,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins.
Group Provides Data on Why Red-Light Cameras Make Safety Sense
American Traffic Solutions released a set of data on the dangers of red-light running and why automated enforcement with safety cameras make safety sense. Some of the findings are as follows: an average 719 people die each year in red-light running crashes. Total red-light running crash fatalities increased by 7 percent from 2011-2015, but crashes in communities using red-light safety cameras decreased by 12 percent. A review of 79 cities using red-light cameras between 1992 and 2014 found they saved 1,296 lives.
Safe Kids President Torine Creppy Blogs About Summer Road Safety
As the days of summer winnow away, it’s still good to remember that summer days are among the most dangerous of the year. That’s the message of Safe Kids President Torine Creppy in her ScaryMommy.com blog. She expressed concern about new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers showing that between 2013 and 2016, the number of kids ages 10 through 19 who died because of an injury jumped by 12 percent. “The biggest contributor to fatal injuries among America’s youth: motor vehicle crashes, which account for 62 percent of deaths,” Ms. Creppy writes. “All you have to do is observe young people walking down the street with earbuds plugged in and eyes fixed on their phones to appreciate how easily such distractions could lead to tragedy.”
U.S. Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Curb Flavored Liquid Nicotine
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation to curb the sale of liquid nicotine in flavors like Crème Brûlée and Gummy Bears. The flavoring is a powerful draw for young consumers to use the product. One device used to consume the addictive liquid is the JUUL, an e-cigarette which has become popular in schools. The JUUL looks like a flash drive and is easy to conceal. The new legislation is called the SAFE Kids Act and is just one effort of many by federal and state policy makers to deal with the problem of liquid nicotine use.
CDC Announces Salmonella Outbreak in Raw Turkey Products; Salmonella Season at Full Swing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning consumers of an outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella in raw turkey products which has sickened 90 people in 26 states. CDC officials are advising the public to use caution when handling and preparing raw turkey, and to fully cook all raw turkey products to a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The outbreak strain of Salmonella has been found by public health officials in a variety of products, ranging from ground turkey to pet food, as well as live turkeys. CDC and the Department of Agriculture are working with the turkey industry to reduce potential contamination and track down potentially infected products. Although lab-testing has shown this strain of Salmonella to be resistant to some antibiotics, the drugs typically used to treat Salmonella are thought to be effective against it.
CPSC Official Says Unsafe Consumer Products Cost U.S. Economy $1 Trillion Annually
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, injuries and deaths resulting from unsafe consumer products incur a cost of roughly $1 trillion yearly to the U.S. economy. Richard O’Brien, Director of the Office of International Programs at CPSC spoke to an expert group convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development on July 10. O’Brien said that many of these costs are the result of entirely preventable injuries. He called for increased data sharing between global product safety agencies, so that knowledge of dangerous products and designs can be spread more quickly.
Former NTSB Chair Calls for Ban on Duck Boats After Missouri Tragedy
Jim Hall, former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair, has called for a ban on amphibious “duck boat” tours like the one that sank a few weeks ago on Table Rock Lake outside of Branson, Missouri. That tragedy killed 17 people, including five children and nine members of one family. Hall cited a lack of appropriate safety regulations for these craft, which fall somewhere between a bus and a boat. He also noted similarities between the Branson incident and a 1999 duck boat sinking in Arkansas which resulted in 13 deaths, including three children. The NTSB investigation into that earlier incident identified factors contributing to the loss of life to be modifications to the craft that reduced reserve buoyancy and the addition of a canopy.
Las Vegas TV Station “Stings” Ride Share Companies on Car Seats
KTNV, the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas, conducted an undercover investigation to see whether ride share drivers require younger kids to sit in car seats. In a trio of rides with both Lyft and Uber, five of the six drivers volunteered to carry a woman and her 2-year-old daughter without a seat. Unfortunately, ride shares, like taxis, are specifically exempted from CPS requirements in Nevada. Maybe the Nevada law needs to change? In the story, Heather Watson, President of Safe Kids Clark County, offered, "If they take one ride, without a car seat or booster seat, who is to say that one ride isn't the ride that they are involved in a crash.”
Back to School Safety Law Signed by Governor in North Carolina
A law was signed by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper that will allow school districts to place cameras on the side of school buses to deter and catch school bus passers. The law also boosted fines to $400 or more. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says an average 3,100 cars pass school buses every year. "I believe this will serve as a strong deterrent, these fines will serve as a deterrent," said Governor Cooper in signing the bill. The School Bus Cameras and Civil Penalties, SB 55, was sponsored by Senator Edward Hanes.
"Dragon’s Breath” Cereal Infused With Liquid Nitrogen Linked to Severe Asthma Attack
Desserts, snacks and cereal products infused with liquid nitrogen, sold under names like “Dragon’s Breath” may pose a serious health risk to people with asthma, as one Florida family learned. Racheal McKenny let her son Johnny try one of these treats, which allowed her son to blow “smoke.” Soon after on the ride home, the boy began to cough so severely he couldn’t catch his breath. Rachael’s husband John fortunately knew of a nearby firehouse, where paramedics began treating Johnny. His asthma attack became so severe that Johnny required treatment with epinephrine and steroids during an ambulance ride to the hospital. Luckily, he was able to return home soon and is in good condition. Racheal McKenny commended the kiosk where the treat was purchased for swiftly providing her with ingredient information and putting up a sign to warn future customers with asthma.
CPSC Approves New Federal Safety Standard for Baby Changing Products
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved a new standard for baby changing products after numerous reports of fatalities and injuries, including asphyxia. There have also been reports of falls because of structural issues with these products. The standard adopts a voluntary guideline under the ASTM process. The Commission was required to set the standard under the bipartisan Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act which was sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois with Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan. The law was named after 16-month-old Danny Keysar who was strangled at his licensed day care facility when a portable crib collapsed, turning the horizontal side rail into a V-shaped wedge that fatally squeezed his throat.
States, Cities, Voters Moving to Protect Kids from Dangers of Liquid Nicotine, Vaping
Just a small quantity of liquid nicotine swallowed by a small child can be lethal and some of the new e-products—popular with teens—for consuming nicotine can cause addiction. Given those risks, states and localities are passing laws to prevent such dangerous exposures. In one effort, Connecticut Governor Malloy signed a bill into law, HB5293, making it tougher to buy e-nicotine products by mandating that the purchases be in person so that the purchaser’s age can be checked—the same for cigarettes. Voters in San Francisco approved “Proposition E,” which would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products including vaping liquids packaged as tasting like candy or fruit juice. Voters supported the proposition by a margin of 68 to 32 percent, in the face of heavy media advertising against it from tobacco interests. In Ohio, The Youngstown, City Council is considering an ordinance which would raise the age to 21 to purchase e-cigarettes, including the product Juul, popular with teens. At a hearing, pediatrician Elena Rossi testified in favor of the bill representing Akron Children’s Hospital, home of Safe Kids Ohio.
Study by Insurance Research Group Looks at 81 Percent Increase in Pedestrian Deaths
Highways deaths have been increasing in the U.S. since 2013. A new study by the respected Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that a significant contributor to the increase is an 81 percent jump in pedestrians killed in crashes involving SUVs. The report explained that the reason relates to the higher front ends in SUV design, compared to passenger cars, leading to a “more blunt impact.”
New CPSC High Chair Standard Explained
The Commission has also set a new federal standard for high chairs, based on voluntary standards adopted under the ASTM process. The regulation will require high chairs to use a passive crotch restraint and a three-point restraint system. The agency took the action after seeing an alarming number of high chair fall injuries. The Good Housekeeping article linked above is an FAQ to guide parents with high chair aged children.
New Name, Different Roles for Food and Drug Administration Considered
A plan by the Trump Administration would remove the food aspect from the agency and maintain its focus on drugs. The FDA’s food responsibilities would be merged into the food safety and inspection branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, nutrition assistance programs for low income families would move to the Department of Health and Human Services. The new agency would be called the Federal Drug Administration, and the plan would have to be approved by Congress.
Be Alert! Children Dying in Hot Cars
As we go to press with this recall update, it is sad to report that 18 children have died in hot cars thus far in 2018, left alone by a parent or caregiver or able to gain access to a car. This death toll at this point in the year surpasses annual hot car deaths over the past five years. On June 20, 18-month-old Chergery Teywoh Lew Mays who was found dead in a car, reported by police to have been left alone for more than ten hours. The death occurred in Northern California when the temperature was in the low 80s. The next day, 21-month-old Remington Engler died in Roseburg Oregon, on a 79 degree day. “It doesn’t have to be a blazing hot day for these to happen,” said Jan Null, a meteorologist who has been reporting on heatstroke since 1998. What can you do? Never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a moment, no matter the outside temperature. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
CPSC Announces New Federal Safety Standard for High Chairs
On June 12, the Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted a new mandatory safety standard for high chairs, including new stability, restraint and labeling requirements. This new standard fully incorporates the latest voluntary standard for high chairs developed by ASTM International. According to the CPSC, U.S. emergency departments treated an estimated 18,500 high chair-related injuries between 2015 and 2016 alone. Most of these injuries were related to high chairs tipping over or their child restraint systems failing. The new standard will not go into effect until June 19, 2019, but you can look for high chairs right now that meet ASTM F401-18, the voluntary standard just adopted as mandatory. Safe Kids has high chair tips to help you pick out the right model for your bundle of joy.
Child Passenger Safety Essential When You Travel by Air
Cassandra Hutchins knows the importance of child passenger safety, so it was only natural for her to bring her infant daughter’s safety seat with her for their flight home from Denver. But when she boarded the United Airlines flight and began to install the seat in its proper rear-facing position, a gate agent told her that the plane would not take off unless she turned the seat around. Hutchins said she felt she was being “intimidated” into moving the seat and described having to physically hold her child’s back to the seat during turbulence. Federal Aviation Administration policy calls for child safety seats to be installed “in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions,” including “the appropriate forward- or aft-facing [rear-facing] direction.” According to Hutchins, a flight attendant reviewed the policy, acknowledged the mistake and let her fix the seat about twenty minutes before landing.
Opening of Hurricane Season Marks Time to Think Disaster Safety & Preparation
This year’s hurricane season began June 1, and with last year’s storms still in the minds of many, it is a good time to think about how to stay safe in a disaster situation. One of the distinctive features of a hurricane or similar disaster is reliance on gasoline or diesel powered generators for electricity, but these must be used safely. Carbon monoxide poisoning from generators killed over a dozen Florida residents last year in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Never operate a generator indoors or in a garage. Always keep them at least 20 feet from the house. Additionally, be sure that you have properly installed functional carbon monoxide and smoke alarms, as well as backup batteries. For more storm safety tips, visit the CPSC’s Neighborhood Safety Network.
Senate Commerce Committee Counsel Peter Feldman Nominated for CPSC Commissioner
President Trump has nominated Peter Feldman for the last remaining CPSC Commissioner position. Feldman, currently senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, has experience overseeing consumer protection issues involving the CPSC, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If confirmed, Feldman would bring the Commission back to its full strength and give Republicans a 3-2 voting majority. Feldman has been nominated by the President both to finish out the term of former Commissioner Joe Morohovic, and for a standard term of seven years.
Open Water Drowning: Safe Kids Releases New Water Safety Research Report
Safe Kids recently released its latest research report, “Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children.” Drowning remains a major child safety issue, impacting roughly 150 families every week. This report focuses on the specific hazards posed by open water and how those risks differ from pools. It also found large disparities in how open water drowning affects different groups of kids; for example, males represent an astonishing 80 percent of all open water fatalities. These findings reinforce the need for strong water safety policies, especially laws requiring personal flotation devices (PFD) be worn by kids on boats. Although the Coast Guard requires that all children under 12 on boats in federal waters wear a PFD, most recreational boating takes place on state waterways which are protected by far less strict laws. In fact, in Virginia and Wisconsin, two states with large boating populations, there are still no laws requiring children to wear PFDs. Safe Kids Wisconsin supports a PFD law up to age 10. Safe Kids’ work on water safety is made possible by Nationwide.
CPSC Warns Parents to Always Use Restraints with Inclined Sleep Products
Last week, the CPSC issued a warning to parents about bassinet-like inclined sleep products, cautioning them to always secure the products’ restraints to prevent sleeping infants from rolling over. These inclined sleep products are a form of a bassinet, with an incline to keep the baby’s upper body elevated. In its warning, the CPSC said it was aware of infants dying after rolling over in these products. The CPSC alert also reiterated long-standing safe sleep practices such as keeping a baby’s sleep environment free of blankets, pillows or other items, and always placing infants to sleep on their backs. For more safe sleep tips, visit Safe Kids’ Baby Sleep Safety Tip Sheet.
Dana Baiocco Confirmed as CPSC Commissioner
On May 22, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dana Baiocco as a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, replacing Marietta Robinson. Prior to being nominated for the post by President Trump last September, Commissioner Baiocco was a partner at the law firm Jones Day where she had extensive experience with product safety and recalls. CPSC Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle welcomed Baiocco’s confirmation, praising her “strategic experience in product safety, extensive knowledge of public policy with consumer products and deep understanding of how companies can be proactive in improving the safety of their products.” CPSC Commissioners serve a seven-year term, with Baiocco’s set to run through October 2024.
MLB Player’s Injury Brings Attention to Role of Athletic Cups
On May 6, in a game against the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had to leave the field after being struck in the groin with a 102-mph fastball. The blow left him with a traumatic hematoma requiring surgery and at least four weeks recovery. The injury, while dramatic and concerning, brought attention to an often overlooked sports safety issue: athletic cups. Despite the continuing hazard of testicular injuries in sports, a 2015 study by Geisinger Health System showed that less than 13 percent of high school and college athletes wear an athletic cup. Paradoxically, the same study found that 36 percent of those athletes had seen a teammate suffer a testicular injury and 18 percent had suffered one themselves.
FDA Warns of Risk to Infants Posed by Benzocaine Teething Products
On May 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that over-the-counter teething products containing benzocaine “pose a serious risk to infants and children”, and took steps to begin removing such products from the market. The FDA has requested that manufacturers stop producing and marketing such products, cautioning that if they do not comply the agency will take regulatory action. The FDA’s announcement warned of benzocaine products’ association with methemoglobinemia, a potentially deadly condition interfering with oxygen levels in the bloodstream. The agency recommends that parents of teething children instead consult the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines and avoid topical pain relievers.
Safe Kids Coalitions Urge CPSC To Provide Awareness On Difference Between “Child-Resistant”, “Childproof”
70 Safe Kids coalitions from 30 states recently wrote to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), requesting that they provide awareness about the distinctions between “child-Resistant” and “childproof” medication packaging. A recent Safe Kids research report, “Safe Medicine Storage: Recent Trends and Insights for Families and Health Educators,” found widespread confusion among parents about the limitations of “child-resistant” packaging for medication. One in three parents believe drugs in “child-resistant” packaging are safe to leave within the sight and reach of a child.
CPSC Hosts Fourth North America Consumer Product Safety Summit
On May 3 and 4, product safety professionals from the CPSC and its counterparts Health Canada and the Consumer Protection Federal Agency of Mexico (PROFECO) met at CPSC headquarters in Bethesda, MD. The Fourth North America Consumer Product Safety Summit was convened to identify emerging product safety issues, gather stakeholder input and set the path for future multi-lateral collaboration. The summit’s second day was open to the public with sessions on several issues involving children, including challenges posed by the growth of e-commerce, and the hazard potential of high-energy lithium-ion batteries.
Health Canada Announces Tougher Regulation of Lead, Cadmium in Children’s Products
Health Canada, the Canadian counterpart to the U.S. CPSC, recently unveiled strict new limits on allowable levels of lead and cadmium in children’s products. These regulations lower permissible lead content in children’s jewelry from 600 mg/kg to 90 mg/kg while establishing a limit of 130 mg/kg for cadmium. Furthermore, the range of products covered by the new rules are expanded to include toys, clothing, and accessories for children from age 3 to 14. It also includes “products to facilitate relaxation, sleep, carrying or transporting” of children under 4. Exposure to cadmium and lead is particularly hazardous to young children, who are more likely to place such objects in their mouths. These regulations will take effect November 2, 2018.
Stay Safe While Pedaling Through National Bike Month
May is National Bike Month, and while biking is a healthy source of recreation and transport for many kids, it also needs to be a safe activity. Everyone who rides a bicycle should always wear a properly fitting helmet, especially children. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury to a child by as much as 78 percent. Setting the example here is important; if a kid sees their parent wearing a helmet, they will be more likely to do so on their own as well. The CDC can help with resources on how to pick out a helmet for your child, and a video showing how to properly fit a helmet. For more bike safety materials, check out our Safe Kids Bike Safety Tips.
New Testing Shows Promise for Mandatory Furniture Tip-Over Standard
Consumer Reports recently conducted a new series of tip-over testing on a variety of dressers, the results of which show several new models meeting a proposed new mandatory standard which is stricter than the current voluntary standard. Consumer Reports, which backs the proposed mandatory standard, points to these results as proof that it is possible to manufacture dressers to this standard without having to drastically increase prices. Indeed, two of the new IKEA models that met the tougher standard are priced at $69 and $129. Previously, IKEA Malm dressers were involved in at least eight tip-over deaths and subject to several recalls of millions of dressers. In April, Safe Kids submitted a comment to the CPSC in support of the proposed mandatory standard. Tip-overs remain a troubling home safety issue, with one child dying every two weeks after furniture or a TV falls on them.
FDA, FTC Warn Liquid Nicotine Manufacturers Over Misleading Packaging
In early May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to seventeen liquid nicotine manufacturers after finding they had marketed their products to appear substantially similar to kid friendly food products. These e-liquids were sold in packaging designed to look like juice boxes, gummy candies, cookies, and even whipped cream. Liquid nicotine poses serious health risks when consumed by children, including seizures, coma, and death. According to the FDA, over 8,000 such cases were reported between 2012 and 2017. In related news, the FDA announced a nationwide “blitz” of online and brick-and-mortar retailers to crack down on e-cigarette sales to minors. Specifically, officials will be targeting the sale of “JUUL” brand e-cigarettes, which have recently become notorious for their popularity amongst teenagers.
Food Safety: CDC & FDA Advise Consumers Avoid Lettuce from Yuma, Eggs from North Carolina Farm Infested with Rodents
On Friday, April 20, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) expanded its E. Coli outbreak warning to cover all types of romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region. At the time of this writing, the CDC had confirmed 121 cases of E. Coli infection across 25 states, resulting in 52 hospitalizations and one death. The CDC recommends that consumers not eat any romaine lettuce unless they can confirm it is not from the Yuma region, and that they throw out any lettuce they are unsure of. Readers can learn more about the CDC response here. This lettuce-related outbreak came just days after the CDC’s announcement of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella among eggs produced at a farm in North Carolina. Reporting on this facility by CNN indicates the Rose Acre Farm in Hyde County, NC had “an ongoing rodent infestation, unsanitary conditions, and poor employee practices.” More than 200 million eggs are involved. More information about the Salmonella outbreak can be found at the CDC website .
Safe Kids, Child Safety Advocates Call on CPSC To Maintain Focus on Toothpick Crossbows
Safe Kids Worldwide has partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, Consumer Federation of America and Kids In Danger to urge the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to focus on the growing child product safety threat posed by toothpick crossbows. These small devices have already been connected with at least one serious eye injury in China. There, a boy suffered permanent eyesight damage after being struck in the eye by a toothpick fired by a friend from one of these crossbows. Pediatricians have expressed concern that the toothpicks could easily be replaced with even more dangerous needles or nails, objects capable of potentially penetrating bones.
67 Safe Kids Coalitions to The Weather Channel: Educate Public About Heatstroke
Safe Kids led 67 of its coalitions at the state and local level in a letter to the CEO of The Weather Channel urging the network to use all of its communications channels to educate parents about the danger of leaving a child alone in a car. The meteorologist Jan Null who’s been collecting data on heat stroke deaths since 1998 wrote, “It should be a priority of the meteorological community to partner in raising awareness and helping to prevent these tragedies.” Safe Kids will follow up with a similar request to 290 news meteorologists around the nation.
Deadly Missouri House Fire Shows Importance of Functioning Smoke Alarms
Four brothers, ages fourteen, eight, five and four, were found dead after a blaze destroyed much of their home in Lake Ozark, Missouri. Authorities with the state fire marshal’s office say the extent of the damage will make determining the fire’s cause difficult, although investigators did not find any smoke detectors. This tragic incident highlights the importance of installing and maintaining functional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the home. Alarm batteries should be changed every six months. States have been passing laws requiring the use of 10-year sealed battery, worry-free alarms. For more tips, you can check how you’re doing on fire safety with the Safe Kids Fire Safety Checklist.
EU Regulators Propose New Oversight Rules on Verifying Product Safety Research
The European Commission recently proposed new rules that would give it broader powers to review safety research submitted as part of the product safety approval process. This proposal comes in response to criticism leveled at the European Commission’s handling of studies in its assessment of the weed killer glyphosate. In that case, lawmakers in opposition alleged that Monsanto, the largest manufacturer of glyphosate, ghostwrote much of the research used secretly by the European Commission as part of the approval process. Should these new rules be adopted, agencies like the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be able to re-evaluate and independently verify product safety studies, as well as conduct their own.
April Sees Legislators, Advocates Move the Ball on Sports Safety
April was Youth Sports Safety Month, and was accompanied by introduction and movement on bills across the country seeking to improve the safety of kids at play. In California, Assemblyman Kansen Chu’s AB 2800 seeks to expand education requirements for high school coaches to include training to identify and treat heatstroke among their athletes. As of this writing, AB 2800 has passed the California Assembly and been referred to the Senate Committee on Education. This month also saw a number of bills aimed at addressing the problem of traumatic brain injuries in youth sports. Some of these like Senator Patrick Diegnan’s SB 2442 in New Jersey or Oregon’s SB 1547, which was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown, seek to reform the process of treatment and return to activity for concussed athletes. Others, like the notable Illinois HB 4341 (known as the Dave Duerson Act) seek to ban tackle football outright for young athletes under 12 years of age.
Increased Risk of Injuries at Amusement Parks; Regulation Gap at Issue?
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were over 30,000 injuries associated with amusement park rides in 2016. Even so, the CPSC is largely unable to address these risks, as its authority over fixed-site amusement parks was revoked in the 1980s. This job was transferred to state and local authorities. However, amusement parks remain unregulated in numerous states. Although serious injuries from amusement parks remain relatively uncommon, child safety advocates maintain that a coordinated federal body is necessary to track data and make policy around this risk area. In 2016 , a 10-year-old boy, Caleb Schwab, died after sustaining serious head and spinal injuries on the “Verrückt” waterslide at Schlitterbahn, a Kansas waterpark. He was the son of a Kansas state legislator. In recent weeks, the park’s owners and an executive were arrested and charged with a host of offenses related to alleged negligence in the construction and operation of the park.
Safe Kids Submits Comment In Favor Of Furniture Tip-Over Standard
Safe Kids Worldwide recently submitted a comment to the Consumer Product Safety Commission calling for the creation of a mandatory standard for the design and construction of Clothing Storage Units (CSU). A mandatory standard would prevent many deaths and injuries to children that occur due to tip-overs of unstable dressers. Furniture and TV tip-overs represent a serious home safety risk for small kids; every 2 weeks a child dies after a piece furniture falls on them. The CPSC has worked on this issue for years through their “Anchor-It” campaign, encouraging families to secure their furniture and TVs to a wall to prevent tip-overs. Although Safe Kids applauds this work and urges parents to anchor existing furniture, tip-over prevention needs to be a mandatory factor in the design and construction of furniture going forward.
Nebraska Car Seat Legislation Signed by Governor Ricketts
A new car seat bill, LB 42, has passed the Nebraska Legislature and been approved by Governor Pete Ricketts. This bill, sponsored by State Senator Robert Hilkemann (Omaha), will require children to ride in a rear-facing car seat until age 2 or when they outgrow the manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations. It also moves the threshold for booster seats to age 8 and requires kids up to age 8 to sit in the rear seat. Jaime Mukherjee of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Omaha praised the bill, saying its provisions would ensure kids are seated “in an appropriate way that allows them to be as safe as possible in the event there’s a crash." The new law will go into effect January 1, 2019.
9-Year-Old Advocate Takes Up the Cause of Pedestrian Safety in Cincinnati
Cincinnati fourth grader Madelyn Gerker walks to school every day, and is now advocating for a safer pedestrian environment. Her plea is “No sidewalk. No safety.” The 9 year old wrote to Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, describing a walk full of hazards, from the absence of a sidewalk to potholes and speeding traffic that has nearly hit one of her siblings. Her story resonated with City Councilman Jeff Pastor, who attended Gerker’s school and has now begun to seek grant money to address the sidewalk issues she described. In his reply to the letter, Mayor Cranley promised to work with city government to address the problems, and offered to meet Madelyn and her parents to talk safety. We at Safe Kids applaud Madelyn’s “No sidewalk. No Safety.” initiative and hope she keeps up the hard work!
Make Every Week Window Safety Awareness Week
Window Safety Awareness Week helps child safety advocates and the CPSC educate families and keep kids safe around windows and window coverings. Falls are one of the biggest preventable hazards around windows. Safe Kids has a variety of resources with tips to prevent window falls, including a safety factsheet and home safety checklist. The National Safety Council (NSC) has also released a number of safety tips about window falls and other significant hazards such as window covering cords. Although cordless window coverings are available and strongly recommended for households with young children, nearly one child dies per month from window cord strangulation.
Daylight Savings: “Spring-Forward” Reminds Families to Check Smoke Detector Batteries; It Is Not Too Late
After his character on the hit show “This Is Us” perished in a tragic fire due to a smoke detector without batteries, actor Milo Ventimiglia has produced a PSA reminding everyone of this risk. Smoke detectors are among the most important safety devices in the home; it’s imperative to their function that they have fresh batteries every 6 months. A great way to remember this task is to change your smoke detectors’ batteries on daylight savings time in the fall and spring. The detectors themselves should be replaced every 10 years. If you need to buy a new smoke detector, many new models have sealed batteries which last the entire 10-year lifetime of the device without needing replacement.
Federal Injunction Halts California Warning for Products Containing Glyphosate
In the latest in ongoing litigation, a federal court issued an injunction preventing California from requiring cancer warnings on products containing the herbicide glyphosate. The warning, which would have been required under a California law known as Prop 65, was fiercely opposed by groups representing the agricultural industry. They contend that the research linking glyphosate to cancer is inconclusive, and that requiring a cancer warning would constitute a violation of manufacturer’s First Amendment rights against compelled speech. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European regulators have not restricted the use of glyphosate.
99 Days Before July 4: Debate Surrounds CPSC Rule-making on Firework Safety Standards
As the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) considers new rules governing fireworks, debate has ignited among various industry groups over what standards will best ensure consumer safety. The CPSC has recently been focused on the potential hazards posed by the presence of certain metallic powders. The metallic powders enhance how loud fireworks are when they explode. During a visit to the CPSC in late February, officials with the National Fireworks Association expressed doubt that regulation addressing these ingredients will truly improve safety and are asking the CPSC to focus on the strength of the explosion. However, the standards under CPSC consideration would be identical to some of those by the American Pyrotechnic Association and the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory.
Safe Kids Releases Sixth Report on Medication Safety: Reconciles Difference Between Child-resistant/Childproof
Safe Kids Worldwide has updated its research on medication safety with a new March 2018 report. This report focuses on how important it is to store medication up, away and out of the sight of children. New research performed by Safe Kids shows that although there is real progress being made in preventing child medication poisoning, we still have work to do to keep every kid safe. One particularly important issue is that parents may know that “child-resistant” packaging is not childproof. Research suggest that half of accidental medication poisonings involve child-resistant packaging. It is imperative that they still be stored up, away, and out of sight. Another tip is to find an authorized drug take-back location near you for old medication you don’t need. The Drug Enforcement Administration can tell you where you can find an authorized location near you. You can also find an infographic containing information on safe medicine storage from Safe Kids Worldwide. Safe Kid’s work on medication safety is made possible by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.
States Moving Independently to Ban Flame Retardants
Sixteen states across the country are now considering legislation to ban organohalogens from furniture and children’s toys. The flame retardants are believed to pose a carcinogenic risk to children and to firefighters who may be exposed to them in a blaze. The International Association of Firefighters supports banning organohalogens, citing their carcinogenic nature in testimony to the CPSC, as well as legislatures in Vermont, Minnesota, Washington, Maryland and Virginia. So far this year, Minnesota and the District of Columbia have already approved legislation against flame retardants. California has required a warning label on all products containing organohalogens since 2013.
Is a Mini Crossbow Which Can Shoot Toothpicks, Needles and Nails the New Fidget Spinner?
Is the new toy worrying parents and teachers in China the next fidget spinner? It’s a toothpick crossbow. China is cracking down on them, but they are now available in the U.S. online. It’s a “mini weapon of destruction," one Chinese mom, Yan Yan, told CNN. And it doesn’t stop with toothpicks; they can shoot nails and needles. In June 2017, a 10-year-old sustained permanent injury to his eyesight.
Michaels Stores Inc. Agrees To $1.5M Settlement for Delays in Reporting 200,000 Defective Vases
The craft retailer Michaels Stores has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company failed to report known product safety hazards relating to more than 200,000 vases. The vases were manufactured with thin and easily breakable glass, leading to multiple incidences of them breaking during normal use. The company received reports of at least five injuries due to this hazard, but failed to report it for several years. As part of the settlement of this case, Michaels must create a compliance program for future reporting, in addition to paying the civil damages.
CPSC Signs Consumer Safety Cooperation Agreement with North American Counterparts
Last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Department of Health of Canada (Health Canada) and Consumer Protection Federal Agency of the United Mexican States (PROFECO) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize cooperation between the agencies. The agreement was signed and unveiled at the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. The MOU will streamline technical exchanges, sharing of best practices, and the process of aligning standards among the participants. According to CPSC acting chairman Anne Marie Buerkle, the MOU comes on the heels of enhanced cross-border cooperation following North American Product Safety Summits in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Given that Canada and Mexico make up 88 percent of U.S. consumer product imports from the western hemisphere, this agreement marks a step forward in ensuring the safety of products entering the country
Cleveland Pilots New Infrared Pedestrian Safety Technology in City Buses
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is working with transportation research group Battelle on a project to pilot a new technology system that will warn city buses of pedestrians and vehicles entering their lanes and crossing at intersections. This system, which consists of a series of infrared cameras and radio equipment, is designed to provide bus drivers with advanced warnings and a better sense of surroundings they can’t see directly in real time. Funding for the project was provided by a grant program run by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) which seeks to identify new technologies to improve urban transit that can be used across the country.
National Consumer Protection Week was March 4-10
March 4 through 10 was National Consumer Protection Week, and to help celebrate the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) promoted awareness around different risks each day. Monday was Infant Safety Day, with an emphasis on safe sleep practices. For safe sleep tips and more information, check out the CPSC’s Crib Information Center. Tuesday centered around fire safety, a risk that leads to roughly 2,200 deaths each year. One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from fire is to ensure you have working smoke and CO alarms in every floor of your residence. You can learn more at the CPSC’s Fire Safety Information Center. Wednesday was dedicated to Pool Safely, CPSC’s program to prevent childhood drowning in pools. Visit the Pool Safely website for safety tips and more. Thursday focused on Anchor-It and the danger of furniture tip-overs, which can be prevented by anchoring furniture and TVs to walls. Friday was dedicated to recalls and the important role they play in keeping hazardous products away from families. You can check out the CPSC recall page for up to date information on all product recalls, all year round. With the help of these resources and the safekids.org website, parents can make every week Consumer Protection Week.
Virginia Rear-Facing CPS Bill Passes Senate & Awaits Governor Ralph Northam's Signature
Virginia is poised to become the 10th state to adopt a law requiring kids to be rear-facing in a car seat up to age 2 or based on the car seat manufacturer’s recommended height or weight limits. As we go to press Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill, HB 708, was moving on to newly-elected Governor Ralph Northam’s desk for his signature. Safe Kids Virginia worked hard for the bill as did the lobbying team of Children’s National Health System (special shout out to Mr. Carter Batey). The bill adopts a 2011 best practice from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
CPSC Approves New Federal Standard for Infant Sling Carriers
On February 1, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved a new mandatory safety standard for infant sling carriers, designed to ensure the quality of their construction and provide information on proper usage. The new standard requires manufacturers to incorporate permanently attached warning labels regarding suffocation and fall hazards, and ways to prevent such dangers. It requires sling carriers to be able to carry up to three times the manufacturer’s maximum recommended weight, be better constructed to prevent breakages or tearing, and be able to prevent a child from falling out during normal use. This new mandatory standard will cover all sling carriers manufactured or imported after January 30, 2018.
American College of Sports Medicine Releases New Recommendation on Highly-Caffeinated Energy Drinks
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) unveiled new advice regarding highly-caffeinated energy drinks, warning of the potential dangers these products pose to children and teens. Because of the particularly high risks of adverse effects, ACSM recommends that kids not consume these drinks. They also advise that energy drinks should carry warning labels clearly stating, “High Source of Caffeine." ACSM also warns that kids should not consume these drinks before, during, or after strenuous physical activity, highlighting several deaths attributed to energy drinks and such exercise. In their statement, ACSM called for investment in education about energy drinks and their potential dangers as part of health and wellness classes in schools. ACSM also advised that manufacturers of energy drinks not be permitted to advertise these products at events marketed to children.
Representative Debbie Dingell Proposes Bill to Mandate Asbestos Warning for Children’s Cosmetics
A new bill proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) would require cosmetics marketed to children to bear a warning label of potential asbestos content. Manufacturers would only be exempt from this labeling if they can show they have stringent testing in place. The legislation comes in response to reports late last year that certain children’s cosmetics contained trace amounts of tremolite asbestos fibers. Contamination in cosmetic products is often thought to be due to the proximity of mineral ingredients to asbestos deposits in the earth during the mining process. Although there have not yet been any documented cases linking cosmetics with asbestos-related diseases, exposure to even small amounts of the substance can cause health issues such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Colorado Children’s GI Doc: h4 Batteries Continue to Pose a Threat to Curious Children
Parents have an intuition about how curious children are. Their most instinctive tools of discovery are their hands and mouths. Unfortunately, there are dangers associated with a child’s use of these tools. One of these that tragically continues to show itself are h4 batteries. h4 batteries are small battery cells often found in musical cards, garage openers, watches, and remote controls. When ingested by children, these batteries pose choking, burn, and shock hazards. Especially dangerous are h4 batteries with a diameter of more than 20 millimeters, which can burn holes in a child’s esophagus. Dr. Robert Kramer, Director of Endoscopy at Children’s Hospital Colorado, home of Safe Kids Colorado, says his hospital system sees multiple cases related to ingestion of h4 batteries monthly and four deaths since 2009. In light of this trend, thinking about safe storage of h4 batteries needs to become an integral part of childproofing a home today.
Road Safety Initiatives Highlight Latest Safe Kids Advocacy Work
As legislative sessions get underway around the country, Safe Kids Vermont, Safe Kids Virginia and Safe Kids DC have been working hard to promote legislation that will keep kids safe on the road. In Vermont, Safe Kids has voiced its support for Representative George Till’s H 691, which would establish primary enforcement for the state’s seatbelt law. A recent report by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) identified primary seatbelt enforcement as one of the most effective policies for reducing traffic fatalities and injuries. Bills are also being considered in Virginia and the District of Columbia that would mandate children under the age of 2 sit rear-facing in a car seat. You can view our letters of support for Virginia Delegate Filler-Corn’s bill HB 708 here, and for DC Councilmember Brandon Todd’s B22-61 here. Don’t forget to check out our Public Policy Library, where you can find all our letters of support, position statements, and updates on pressing child safety legislation.
Michigan Child Passenger Safety Bill Passes House and Moves to Senate Floor
A bill authored by Michigan State Representative Laura Cox (R-Livonia) and supported by Safe Kids coalitions in Michigan, which would strengthen the state’s car seat laws, was recently approved by the Michigan Senate Appropriations Committee after passing the House of Representatives on a 94-16 vote. House Bill 4951 would require children less than 2 years of age or less than 30 pounds to ride in a rear-facing car seat. The bill would bring Michigan’s child passenger safety requirements into line with recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Release Report to Raise Awareness About Road Safety
In January, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) released its 2018 Roadmap of Highway Safety Laws , which rated each state and the District of Columbia on the strength of sixteen traffic safety laws known to prevent road fatalities. The laws that Advocates used to rate the states included child passenger safety, seat belt and teen driving laws. For the first time, Advocates’ rating includes the rear-facing car seat requirement. Only Rhode Island, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, California, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia received a favorable “green” rating and 13 states received a “red” rating with fewer than half of the laws in place. There was an alarming increase in traffic deaths between 2014 and 2016. Advocates hopes the report will encourage lawmakers to pass stronger laws to make U.S. roadways safer and reverse this trend.
“This Is Us” Plotline Offers Opportunity to Think Fire, Product Safety
*Potential Spoilers Ahead* The latest plot developments in NBC’s hit drama “This Is Us” have had viewers taking to social media to discuss potentially hidden dangers in the home. As the Crock-Pot company has since pointed out, your slow cooker is unlikely to be the cause of a fire tragedy like the one on the show. We should all take a moment to check for potentially recalled products in our homes at the CPSC website. In addition, the show has given us all a powerful reminder of the importance of having functioning smoke alarms in the home. Legislation promoted by Safe Kids calls for the use of worry-free 10-year smoke alarms. Equally important is ensuring that you have working carbon monoxide alarms on each level of your home.
United Kingdom Government Announces New Product Safety Office
In the wake of a number of tragedies linked to dangerous home products, including the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed dozens of lives, the government of the United Kingdom has announced the creation of an Office for Product Safety and Standards. The creation of the office is in response to recommendations promoted by group of safety experts called the Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety. The Office for Product Safety and Standards would be functionally similar to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It will wield national authority to identify risks and organize recalls of dangerous products. In post-Brexit UK, it will be take over responsibility for ensuring the safety of products entering the United Kingdom.
CDC & FDA Declare End to E-Coli Outbreak in Leafy Greens
On January 25, representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an end to the E. Coli outbreak which has affected leafy greens for the last several months. Over the course of the outbreak, 66 people were sickened, 22 were hospitalized and two died. However, no illnesses from this E. Coli strain have been reported since mid-December. Although the FDA and CDC were unable to identify a specific leafy green, supplier, or producer as the culprit for the outbreak, Canadian officials announced the cause to be romaine lettuce, leading Consumer Reports to advise that consumers avoid the vegetable. Although the risk from this outbreak has now passed, advocates and legislators alike are working to ensure a speedy and comprehensive response to similar outbreaks in the future.
Arizona Family of Four Dies in Carbon Monoxide Tragedy, Stronger CO Law Needed
In early January 2018, the Capitano family of Phoenix, Arizona was staying in a rental cabin in Parks, Arizona near Flagstaff. During their stay, the cabin’s heating system failed and flooded the building with carbon monoxide. Tony, 32, Megan, 32, Lincoln, 4, and Kingsli, 3, died from carbon monoxide poisoning. There were no carbon monoxide alarms in the cabin. Arizona does not require carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in non-residential rental properties.
New Research Shows 170 Percent Increase in Eye Injuries Related to Non-Powder Guns in Kids
A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that eye injuries related to non-powder guns increased by 170 percent over a 23-year period. Between 1999 and 2012 nearly 442,000 kids were taken to the ER for such injuries. About 79 percent of those injuries were related to BB guns and 19 percent were associated with paintball guns. Senior study author Dr. Gary Smith, Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, recommended that parents heed the following recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Ophthalmology: always wear eye protection; teach children to shoot BB guns at targets that trap the projectiles; educate children about proper safety precautions and ensure there is always adult supervision.
As Super Bowl Sunday Draws Near, Remember to Secure TVs to Prevent Tip-overs
Thinking about buying a new TV for Super Bowl Sunday? Be sure to consider the placement of your TV and how best to secure it from tip-overs. Every 10 days, a child dies after a heavy TV or piece of furniture falls on them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) campaign, Anchor It!, reminds parents and homeowners to safely secure TVs. If you have a heavier, box-style cathode ray tube TV, place it on a low, stable piece of furniture. You can find anti-tip kits and other installation tools at local hardware stores and online retailers. To learn more, visit www.anchorit.gov and for extra tips visit the Safe Kids tip-over prevention page.
New California Pool Safety Act Requires New or Remodeled Pools to Have 2 of 7 Child Safety Barriers
A new California law, the Pool Safety Act, which requires new or remodeled pools to have at least two of seven child protective safety barriers, went into effect on January 1, 2018. While existing pools and spas do not require additional safety measures, voluntarily installing safety barriers for existing pools could save lives. Precautions include self-closing gates, approved safety covers and alarms among other measures. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, and at least 160 children of that age group drowned between 2010 and 2015 in California. Additionally, 740 California children within the same ages suffered a near drowning accident, often leading to brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. The long-term implications of near drowning incidents can lead to learning deficiencies and a high financial burden for families, state support programs, and special education school programs. For more tips on pool safety, visit https://www.safekids.org/poolsafety.
States Taking Initiative to Regulate Dangerous Substances in Children’s Products
In an emerging trend, state legislators are introducing bills to protect children from products containing potentially hazardous chemicals. Examples include: In Virginia, House Bill 951 would protect children and pregnant women from a variety of fire retardant chemicals in furniture upholstery. Washington State House Bill 2632 would bar the manufacture or sale of a variety of children’s products and furniture containing such substances and establishes strict disclosure requirements for manufacturers. Before the New York State Assembly, AB 8266/SB 1454 would ban the sale of children’s products containing toxic flame retardants, cadmium, lead, mercury and phthalates. Safe Kids will continue to monitor these efforts and others like them to keep you informed.
The Bronx Fire Tragedy: Why Children Play with Fire, and How to Reduce the Risk in Kitchens
A pre-New Year’s Day fire in the Bronx killed 13 people, including four children. FDNY officials say the fire happened because of a “backdraft” issue and because a three-year-old boy was playing with stove burners. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said it was the deadliest fire in more than 25 years. This prompted New York Times journalist Maya Thompson to delve into why children play with fire and how we can stop them. Most young fire setters do so out of curiosity. Ms. Thompson interviewed Safe Kids Worldwide Acting President Torine Creppy who recommended creating safety zones around cooking surfaces. Parents can use tape to designate a boundary to remind a child to stay away from a stove. She also emphasized how important it is to keep matches and lighters away from kids, and to have and practice a home fire escape plan. “We have fire drills at work and at school,” she said, “but how many families have them at home.” To learn more about fire safety visit the Safe Kids fire safety page and download our home fire escape plan worksheet made possible by Nationwide.
Vermont House Transportation Committee Chair Signals Support for Stronger Seatbelt Law
Vermont State Representative and House Transportation Committee Chair Pat Brennan (R-Colchester) says he will support a stronger seat belt law when the legislature returns this year. His announcement echoes the sentiments expressed by Vermont Governor Phil Scott, who indicated last fall he was reconsidering his views on the issue. Vermont currently has a secondary enforcement seat belt law meaning drivers need to commit another offense, such as speeding, to be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Safe Kids Worldwide, National Safety Council, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and #SaveKidsLives urged Governor Scott to support a primary enforcement law last August. It would enable law enforcement to pull over drivers for not wearing a seat belt. The change from those who previously opposed a such a law is related to an increase in deaths on Vermont roadways. In 2017 there were 69 motor vehicle crash-related deaths in Vermont, the highest number in four years.
CPSC Marks 10-Year Anniversary of VGB Act: Zero Drain Entrapments in 10 Years
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) marked the 10-year Anniversary of the signing Virginia Graeme Baker Pool Spa and Safety Act (VGB Act) into law by President George W. Bush. The Act was inspired the tragic death of a seven-year-old who was entrapped in a hot tub drain at a family friend’s home. In the ten years since the law was passed there have been no drain-entrapment deaths in public pools. In addition, the VGB Act created a campaign that educates the public on safety in and around pools now called Pool Safely . The campaign is widely considered to be one of the CPSC’s most successful public safety initiatives. There has also been a 17 percent decline in fatal drownings of young children since 2010. Safe Kids Worldwide worked to support the VGB Act and is a Pool Safely campaign partner.
CPSC Announces $1M+ Pool Safely Grant Opportunity for State and Local Governments
The CPSC announced they are offering $1.1 million dollars in Pool Safely grants to help prevent drownings and drain entrapments, made possible by the VGB law discussed above. The application period closes on Monday, April 2nd. Both state and local governments are encouraged to apply. The funding was made possible through the VGB Act, legislation that was advanced by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and others.
Federal Appeals Court Order Gives EPA 90 days to Revise Obsolete 17-Year-Old Lead Paint Standards
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise a nearly 17-year-old standard for levels of lead in paint and dust in homes. The court mandated the EPA to develop a proposed rule in 90 days and finalize it by the end of 2018. Under the Obama Administration, the EPA acknowledged the standard needed to be updated, but failed to take action. The Trump Administration has requested another six-year delay to develop the standard, but the court gave it 90 days. In 2017, the Trump Administration took action to defund the critical EPA lead paint abatement program, a move Safe Kids Worldwide urged Congressional leaders to oppose. New research has confirmed the negative effects lead exposure has on child development and health.
CPSC and Polaris Release Statement on ROV Fire Hazard
The CPSC and recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV) manufacturer Polaris released a joint statement about the fire hazard posed by the Polaris RZR 900 and 1000. Over 130,000 ROVs were recalled in April 2016 because consumers reported 160 fires related to the vehicles including a rollover crash that resulted in a fire, which killed a 15-year-old. Consumers were given the option to repair the vehicles, however repaired vehicles continued to catch fire. Polaris has voluntarily agreed to discontinue sales of all recalled vehicles until the defect is remedied and is working with the CSPC to ensure fire risks in the vehicles are addressed.
New York State Lawmakers Promote Legislation to Lower School Zone Speed Limits on State Roads
If you were to paint a picture of a safe school zone in your mind would there be a 55 mile per hour road in front of the school? Probably not, but many children across the country face that reality every day. The bill, SB6897/AB4554 would allow county governments to lower the speed limit on a road in a school zone. Local governments in New York State are unable to lower speed limits in school zones on state owned roads because they are controlled by the New York State Department of Transportation. Safe Kids has developed an interactive toolkit which can be used by a community to make school zones safer; it includes strategies to lower school zone speed limits. The Take Action Toolkit was made possible by FedEx.