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Child Product and Safety News - 2019

December 2019

High-Powered Magnet Ingestions Increase Six-Fold, Close to 1,600 Cases
Reports to poison control centers about dangerous ingestions of “rare earth magnets” increased by six times between 2016 and 2019, reported the Washington Post (1,600 cases in 2019). Most of these tiny, high-powered magnets are sold as “stress toys” for adults. When a small child swallows several of the magnets, they attract to each other in the gastrointestinal system causing serious problems when they squeeze together or make holes in a child’s fragile intestines and bowel. The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of rare earth magnets in 2012, but a court overturned the restriction. The dramatic increase in poison center calls coincided with a dramatic increase in the sales of the magnets. Safe Kids urges parents and caregivers to keep such products up and away from small children or get them out of the home.

When A “Too-Good-To-Be-True” Price May Be Too Good
Some good deals you find for children’s products online may turn out to be for counterfeit goods. This was the finding of a CNN report which revealed that product listings on ranging from car seats to toys were fake, and dangerous. Reporters purchased a counterfeit Doona car seat listed for $299 (the real product retails for $499) and had the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute conduct a 30-mph crash test on it. The fake broke apart and the toddler dummy was twisted around. Pediatricians said a child in the fake car seat would have sustained serious injuries to their chest, neck or head in a real crash. The genuine Doona passed the crash test. The Toy Association of America put out a report and warnings at the beginning of the 2019 holiday shopping season, urging online shoppers to be on the lookout for fakes. For example, “too-good-to-be-true” prices may be a sign that the listing is selling a fake product.

Senate Criticizes CPSC for Failures on Baby Products
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee issued a report which finds issues with the way the CPSC conducted its work on child products, including inclined sleepers and car seats. The Committee found multiple examples of "inappropriate deference to industry and a failure to use existing statutory and regulatory tools" that put child consumers' safety at risk. One example was the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play inclined sleeper. The ranking member of the Committee, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued a statement which said: "Consumers and their families should have confidence in the products they buy. Industry and the Consumer Product Safety Commission need to take action to ensure that consumers aren't buying dangerous or defective products and that those who do receive a real remedy." The Committee action was prompted by investigative reporting by the Washington Post.

Children’s National, Safe Kids Testify Before DC City Council on Window Coverings
The Council of the District of Columbia held a hearing on legislation introduced by Councilmember Brandon Todd which would require hospitals, health care facilities, day care centers and birthing centers to distribute information on the hazards posed by corded window blinds. Children’s National Hospital ER pediatrician Sarah Ash Combs led the hearing with testimony in favor of the bill because of the strangulation hazard presented by the cords on window blinds, joined by Safe Kids Chief Advocacy & Network Officer Anthony Green. Green said that a new voluntary standard for safer blinds was a positive step, but the standard was not applicable to all blinds or already existing blinds. For that reason, he said, the Todd bill should pass and be a model for the nation.

Children Account for More than ¼ of Nation’s Adverse Opioid Exposures
A recent study in Clinical Toxicology based on National Poison Data System information showed that more than one-fourth of opioid exposures reported to poison control centers involve kids 19 and under, translating to 207,543 cases. The report concluded that an enhanced focus on reducing access in the home is needed, in addition to strategies addressing suicidal tendencies among adolescents. The report said, “Drug overdose deaths in the United States have tripled since 1999, and opioids account for two-thirds of the deaths due to drug poisonings.”

November 2019

Holiday Shopping Alert: Watch Out for Counterfeit Toys, Says Toy Association
In a holiday toy safety alert, the Toy Association urged parents to heed “age grading” alerts on toys. “Advertisements inundate us with images of the latest toys and gadgets, but not every toy is right for every child,” said Safe Kids Kansas in their own holiday shopping alert. In addition, the Association is warning about a rise of counterfeit toys available online, including some of the products most popular with consumers. One clue that should raise suspicions is “too good to be true” prices for name brand toys. The Association produced an infographic to help parents consider fake toys on line. It says, “Nearly 1 in 3 toy-purchasing parents falsely believe that counterfeit toys are not sold on major online marketplaces.” You can also consult Safe Kids’ toy safety tips.

Safe Kids on Hill to Push for Safe Sleep Legislation
Safe Kids Worldwide recently joined with the SUDC Foundation and Cribs for Kids in an advocacy day on Capitol Hill in support of Scarlett’s Sunshine Act (S.1130 / H.R.2271). Advocates conducted 50 meetings with legislators and staff, while a parallel social media campaign mobilized 353 online advocates and generated 1061 communications into Congressional offices.  We were happy to be joined on the Hill by Teresa Crisman of Safe Kids Prince George’s County (MD) and by Sarah Ludwig of Safe Kids Westchester-Rockland (NY). Scarlett’s Sunshine Act proposes measures to standardize data collection around SUID/SUDC deaths in support of better research, as well as funding for safe sleep education.

And here’s an Advocacy Opportunity for you! You can help out by joining the social media advocacy campaign. This link makes it easy to contact your legislators and urge them to support Scarlett’s Sunshine Act.

Queens’ Rep Grace Meng Introduces Legislation to Increase Knowledge of Recalled Products
The Total Recall Act, H.R.5097, was introduced in the House of Representatives seeking to increase parental awareness of recalled products by improving the dissemination of information about recalls on the Internet. The increased exposure would be funded by companies making the recalled products based on a percentage of its marketing budget for the recalled product. Citing estimates that response rates on recalled products range between 4 and 18 percent, Congresswoman Meng said, “As a mom myself, I know parents cannot be expected to check the CPSC website every time they purchase a product for their families. If a company sells a dangerous item, that company should be expected to market the recall as aggressively as they marketed the sale of the product.”

Recalled Products Being Sold Online
A Consumer Reports article cautions parents against purchasing second-hand products on Craigslist and Facebook marketplaces because they may have been recalled. It quotes two parents who bought what they thought were “lifesaver” products for their child, but they were Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play inclined sleepers which have been recalled by the CPSC. Retailers are required to pull recalled items from their shelves, but it’s more confusing when it involves second-hand products sold online. “The technology exists to eliminate recalled product sales online,” says Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger.

Stop Heatstroke Deaths: New Law in Italy Will Require Warnings on Kids Left in Hot Cars
Reacting to a tragic heatstroke death of a toddler in Sicily in 2018, Italian legislators passed a law which requires drivers to have warnings in their cars to remind them about a child left behind. When a child is left behind the alarm would provide a visual or audible warning, or an alert to their smartphone. The law applies to children under 4 years old and sets fines as high as $350. Violators could also have their licenses temporarily suspended. The government may provide parents who comply with a rebate for purchasing the alarms.

October 2019

 NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Urges Retailers to to Remove Inclined Sleepers from Shelves
Senator Kristen Gillibrand held an event in New York City calling on retailers to pull unsafe inclined infant sleep products from their shelves. Safe Kids supported this effort in a statement highlighting the importance of removing these products from the stream of commerce in brick-and-mortar stores and online. The American Academy of Pediatrics knows of at least 73 infant deaths caused by inclined sleepers, which violate safe sleep best practices. The CPSC has initiated a rulemaking process that would ban the products but this process is expected to take months at least, making retailer cooperation in clearing the market critical. Safe Kids supports this rulemaking as well as a legislative ban on inclined sleepers, the Safe Sleep Act of 2019 introduced by Representative Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and cosponsored by Senator Gillibrand.

Safe Kids Updates its Gun Safety Tips
After speaking to safety experts and a group of Safe Kids coalitions engaged in gun safety, Safe Kids issued a new set of safety tips for parents who keep guns in the home. The new tips include how to keep guns safe in a car, introduces fingerprint recognition locks for storing guns and suggest that gunowners remove guns from the home at least temporarily if a family member is in crisis and may be a risk to others or themselves.

First Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against E-Cigarette Manufacturer JUUL
The first wrongful death suit against Juul Labs, maker of the immensely popular JUUL e-cigarette, has been filed in federal court by a Florida mother. Lisa Marie Vail seeks damages for the death of her son, 18-year-old Daniel David Wakefield of Pasco County, who died in his sleep in August 2018 of what the lawsuit describes as “breathing complications” after using JUUL’s product for 3 years. While this is the company’s first wrongful death suit, Juul Labs is defending at least 60 other suits, including lawsuits brought by school districts suing over the costs they face to deal with e-cigarette use in their student bodies. Along with these legal challenges, the company currently faces investigations by the Food and Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission and a number of state attorneys general.

Advocates Call for Progress on Federal Safe Sleep Legislation
Safe Kids and other child safety organizations are organizing a series of meetings with Congressional officials in support of Scarlett’s Sunshine Act, legislation seeking to improve the state of data collection and research into SUID/SUDC. Earlier this year, 83 Safe Kids coalitions joined in a letter of support for the bill.On October 31, the bill was reported out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and advocates now hope to secure support for a floor vote in the Senate Scarlett’s Sunshine Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Isakson (R-GA) and in the House by Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).

Good News/Bad News Story from New Youth Concussion Study Comparing Practice vs. Competition
New research published in Pediatrics carries some mixed results. The good news is that concussion rates for football players in practice are on the decline, as are recurrent concussions across a number of other youth sports. But the bad news is that in-game concussion rates for high school football players appear to be increasing. The study examined concussion rates for high school athletes playing football and over a dozen other sports, finding that boy’s football saw the highest rate (10.4 concussions per 10,000 exposures), followed by girls’ soccer (8.19) and boys’ ice hockey (7.69). Only cheerleaders experienced a higher concussion rate at practice than in competitions. One potential explanation for decreasing concussion rates across most sports is the incorporation of Return to Play protocols by law in many states.

September 2019

Two Carbon Monoxide Bills Pass in House, Move to Senate

On September 10, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the Safe Housing for Families Act, which requires carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in low-income housing subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The legislation, introduced in the House by Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) and Joe Cunningham (D-SC), came on the heels of reporting about four deaths from CO poisoning in public housing this year, including a January incident in Columbia, South Carolina that sickened at least three children. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Safe Kids Worldwide and 40 Safe Kids coalitions submitted a letter of support in favor of the bill.

Additionally, the Nicholas and Zachary Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (H.R. 1618) passed the House unanimously on September 17, sponsored by Representatives Anne Kuster (D-NH) and Buddy Carter (R-GA). It is accompanied in the Senate by S. 481, introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Klobuchar has introduced the Burt bill, named for two  Minnesota brothers who lost their lives to CO poisoning, in each of the last several sessions. Safe Kids’ letter of support for the Nicholas and Zachary Burt Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act is here.

Child Pool Deaths Estimated at 150 This Summer

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that an estimated 150 children under the age of 15 died from drowning in swimming pools and spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019, an increase of 2 over the 2018 numbers. The top four states for pool fatalities were Texas (26), Ohio (11), Florida (10) and California (10). The report was based on media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation.

CPSC Commissioner Bob Adler Becomes Acting Chair

On September 13, CPSC Commissioner Bob Adler was elected as Vice-Chairman of the agency in a majority vote by his fellow CPSC commissioners. Because there is no permanent CPSC Chair at the moment, Adler will become Acting Chair upon Acting Chair Ann Marie Buerkle’s departure on October 27.  

Report Finds Amazon Allowed Toy Sellers to Do Business Before Proving Safety Compliance

A CNBC investigative report has found that Amazon has allowed multiple third-party vendors of toys and other children’s products to begin sales on the e-commerce giant’s marketplace before submitting proof their products have passed safety standards. CNBC refers to emails sent to multiple vendors from Amazon seeking product safety documentation weeks after their products went on the site for sale. Other vendors have referred to the same type of request on Amazon’s seller forum. Third-party vendors today make up nearly 60 percent of sales on Amazon’s marketplace, with 2018 figures showing the platform added an average of roughly 3,400 sellers per day. The report comes on the heels of an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, which found thousands of unsafe or banned products for sale on Amazon.

Walmart Plans To Stop Selling E-Cigarettes

Walmart has moved to eliminate sales of e-cigarettes, including the Juul, at its US stores, citing “regulatory complexity and uncertainty” as public health officials grapple with increasing numbers of lung injury cases linked to the devices around the country. As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is tracking at least 805 cases of lung injury and twelve deaths associated with vaping. Meanwhile, state and local-level policymakers have moved to pass stronger youth tobacco restrictions including bills raising the purchasing age for tobacco products to 21 years, and limiting marketing aimed at kids as well as flavoring. Research published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping spiked dramatically in popularity among teenagers from 2017-2019, doubling from 11 percent to 24 percent of 12th-graders.

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August 2019 

Amazon Still Selling Thousands of Banned, Unsafe and Mislabeled Products, Investigation Finds
A recent investigation by The Wall Street Journal into product safety among the millions of third-party listings on Amazon’s marketplace found over 4,000 products that were either deceptively labeled, declared unsafe by federal agencies or even banned outright. Third-party sellers on Amazon now make up almost 60 percent of sales, that proportion having doubled in the last decade. Further, the Journal found over 150 listings for products that Amazon itself has banned. Equally troubling, testing of some of these products found many falsely listed as “FDA-approved” or certified by product safety groups like Underwriter’s Laboratory. The Journal also compared listings on both Amazon and Target for 3,644 toys, finding 64 percent of the Amazon listings lacked required choking-hazard warnings.

House Oversight Committee Opens Investigation into Inclined Sleepers
U.S. Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) recently announced an investigation by the House Oversight Committee into inclined sleep products. In their statement, the Representatives announced that the Committee is seeking documents from child product manufacturers, the CPSC and other stakeholders about how the products were developed. brought to market, and how the recalls were released to the public. The investigation comes in the wake of a series of child deaths related to the products and a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics warning parents of the danger of inclined sleepers. Legislation seeking to ban them has been introduced in both the House and Senate. 

Atlanta Bans Nighttime Scooter Use As Crashes, Fatalities Mount
Reeling from a string of crashes that left 4 dead since May, Atlanta officials have announced a ban on riding e-scooters at night. Reports indicate that the companies operating scooters in the city intend to comply by making their devices inaccessible from 9:00pm to 4:00am, the hours covered under the ban. Atlanta City Planning Commissioner Tim Keane noted that “We hope this ban is very temporary”, although Chicago has instituted a similar nighttime ban with no indication of plans to remove it. Many US cities are grappling with how to incorporate the newly-popular scooters, as early CDC injury data on the devices hints at troubling trends: almost half of scooter-related injuries are head injuries, but less than 1 percent of riders wear a helmet.

California Enacts Youth Sports Safety Legislation
On July 31, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the California Youth Football Act (AB 1). This legislation extends sports safety standards already established for high school football players and teams to youth football leagues, which all too often operate with little safety oversight or enforcement. Specifically, AB 1 limits full-contact practices to no more than 30 minutes in a day and no more than 2 days each week. Further, it bans full-contact practices for youth football teams outside the regular playing season. Just as importantly, AB 1 institutes critical requirements for coach training, concussion education, and injury response plans. It also requires a medical professional to be present during games, and an independent person at practices with the authority to remove players showing signs of injury. The California Youth Football Act will take effect January 1, 2021.

Report: Day Care Centers Still Using Recalled Infant Sleep Products
Despite recent recalls of millions of inclined sleep products like the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play, many daycares and child care centers still have and use these products, according to a new report. A survey by U.S. PIRG and Kids In Danger found that of 376 child care facilities, 10 percent were still using one of the 2 major inclined sleepers recalled since May. 18 states have laws or regulations banning recalled products in child care centers, but these survey results indicate many facilities lack up-to-date knowledge about recalls. Consumer Reports recommends that parents ask how their day care facility stays informed on recalls, and that they ask providers about specific products that have been recalled recently.

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July 2019

Laws, Building Codes Making Swimming Pools Safer in California
Because of stronger building codes and laws which Safe Kids supported, children are less likely to drown in home swimming pools in California. While drowning rates in the 1990s were as high as 1.4 deaths per 100,000, from 2015-2017, the drowning rate dropped to 0.8 per 100,000. According to Centers for Disease Control data, drowning in swimming pools is close to four times more likely compared to natural water, bathtubs and other locations. “We have the strongest, most stringent pool-fencing law in the nation, in the world, actually,” said drowning prevention advocate Nadina Riggsbee, who lost her 2-year-old to drowning. “We suggest to other states: Why don’t you mirror the California law?”

New Hawaii Law Holds Promise to Make Pedestrians Safer
The Hawaii legislature passed a new crosswalk law that would bar pedestrians from stepping into a crosswalk while the countdown timer is flashing. It went into effect last month. A violator could be fined up to $130. If the pedestrian had started walking across the intersection, they are allowed to finish crossing the street. In part it is aimed at making vulnerable pedestrians safer, including kids.

CPSC Law Provision Delays Public from Learning About Defective Products
The child consumer product advocacy group Kids in Danger blogged recently about a provision of federal consumer product safety law which bars the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from informing the public about a potentially dangerous product without the manufacturer’s consent, and urged that it be repealed. The blog says that this provision, known as 6(b), was a reason why it took so long to make the public aware of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play, which led to at least thirty infant deaths. KID says, “While it will take an act of Congress to repeal 6(b), the CPSC can act to narrow the application of the law and better protect consumers.”

House Energy & Commerce Committee Votes to Send Three Pro-Consumer Bills to House Floor
On July 17, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted to send three pieces of pro-consumer legislation relating to children to the House Floor. They include: the Safe Sleep for Babies Act, which would ban the sale of infant inclined sleep products like the Rock ‘n Play discussed above; the Safe Cribs Act, which would ban the sale of crib bumpers, a product believed to interfere with a child’s safe sleep; the STURDY Act, which would lead to a mandatory standard to prevent tip-overs of clothing storage units. Safe Kids support for this legislation can be found here, here and here. In addition, Committee Chairman Frank Pallone criticized a study he had requested from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looking into “crumb rubber,” a substance made from recycled tires and used to surface child playgrounds and sports fields, saying it was premature for EPA to conclude the risk of exposure is low. Crumb rubber contains several toxic chemicals, including benzothiazole which may be more dangerous to children.

Governor Cuomo Signs Law Increasing Tobacco Sales Age to 21
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law barring people under 21 from buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes like JUUL, which is highly popular with teens. E-cigarettes contain a high amount of nicotine, making them addictive and extremely unhealthy. The Governor said, “we can stop cigarettes and e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of young people in the first place and prevent an entire generation of New Yorkers from forming costly and potentially deadly addictions.” Meanwhile in Congress, a House Committee heard testimony about JUUL targeting children and teens. A 17-year-old testified that JUUL came to his classroom and told students the JUUL was “totally safe.” 

June 2019

Safe Kids Submits Testimony on Child Safety Legislation

Safe Kids Worldwide President, Torine Creppy, submitted testimony to the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in support of several pieces of legislation proposed to keep children and consumers safe. That legislation includes bills to set a mandatory tip-over safety standard for dressers, to modernize the product recall system and to raise awareness about medication safety, among others. In describing the importance of these policies, Torine spoke to a child’s curious nature saying “As soon as a child can reach and grab, and then crawl, they become a natural explorer. They use their hands, fingers and mouth to investigate and this can expose a child to deadly risk.” Federal consumer product safety policy must reflect that basic childhood nature.

Cosmetics Injuries Send 4,300 Children to ERs Every Year

Research by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that more than 64,000 kids in the United States under 5 years old had a cosmetic-related injury from 2002-2016. Emergency department doctors treated approximately 4,300 young children with cosmetic-related injuries annually, with the number and rate staying about the same every year. The most common injures came from nail care products. Hair products were most likely to result in sending children to the hospital. Younger children have a higher risk for injury and hospitalization. Limitations to the study include the fact that the data only came from U.S. emergency departments and no other sources within or outside of the U.S.

What Parents Need to Know About Inclined Sleep Products

All models of the Fisher-Price Rock N’ Play and the Kids II Rocking Sleeper were recalled in April. These recalls were announced after the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had urged they be removed from the market, citing upwards of 30 infant deaths associated with their use. As of June 17, 2019, the AAP updated its stance and is now advising parents against the use of any inclined sleep product, calling them “inherently unsafe”. Recently, U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Safe Sleep Act (HR 3172 and S 1767) which would ban the sale of inclined sleep products. In their updated statement, AAP offered support for the Safe Sleep Act, along with the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports and Kids in Danger. Safe Kids recently submitted a letter of support for the Safe Sleep Act.

Acting CPSC Chair Ann Marie Buerkle Withdraws Nominations

Acting Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Ann Marie Buerkle announced on June 18, that she will withdraw her nominations both to serve as Chair and for an additional term as a Commissioner. In a CPSC press release, she stated that she plans to continue as Acting Chair through September, and to finish out her term until October 27.

May 2019

Amazon Commits to Child Product Safety Reform in Agreement with WA State AG

In an agreement with the Washington State Attorney General, online retail giant Amazon committed to requiring third-party sellers of children’s products on its marketplace to certify compliance with state and federal consumer protection laws. Such third-party sellers made up 58 percent of the company’s gross merchandise sales in 2018. The agreement grew out of findings by Washington state investigators that between 2017 and 2018 over 15,000 Amazon customers purchased school supplies and children’s jewelry containing hazardous levels of lead and cadmium. In a press release, the Washington State AG’s office stated that Amazon has notified purchasers of the affected products, has given refunds and has provided recall information to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Senators Wicker, Cantwell Introduce Bill to Prevent Vehicular Heatstroke

Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have introduced a bipartisan bill, called the HOT CARS Act, which would seek to prevent child heatstroke in cars through a combination of public education and a technological mandate. The bill would require state governments to use some of their federal highway safety program funds on education around heatstroke and would direct USDOT to require new vehicles to have an audio-visual reminder for drivers to check the rear seat for a child left behind. A companion bill in the House is sponsored by Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Peter King (R-NY). According to meteorologist Jan Null of San Jose State University, 52 children died of vehicular heatstroke in 2018, the highest in a single year since records have been kept. On the day the legislation was announced, a child in Jacksonville, FL died of heatstroke, left behind in a day care center van.

“Bounce Houses” Require Special Safety Attention

Inflatable “Bouncers” or “Bounce Houses” can be a kid favorite for birthday parties and cookouts, but a fun experience for all requires attention to important safety considerations. Kids have been seriously injured bouncing off of each other and when the houses are tossed by gusts of wind. There are no national laws governing these products. Moreover, laws regulating bouncers vary widely among states and localities, requiring a more vigilant approach from consumers. If hiring a company to set up a bouncer or bounce house, make sure they are insured, staff members are trained and that you supervise installation personally. They should also be firmly secured to prevent movement and installed away from grills or other heat sources.

Senate Leaders Introduce Legislation Raising Federal Tobacco Purchasing Age to 21

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced a bipartisan bill that would raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years of age. The bill, known as the Tobacco-Free Youth Act, would cover e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, as well as cigarettes and more traditional tobacco products. If passed, it would require states to enact their own “T21” laws or risk being ineligible for federal substance abuse grants beginning in FY2021.

April 2019

More than 5 Million Sleepers Recalled; 4.7 Million by Fisher-Price

In a major recall, two companies recalled rocking sleepers because children can rollover on their front from their backs when not restrained, causing a suffocation risk. Fisher-Price recalled all models of their Rock ‘n Play Sleepers, involving 4.7 million products and over 30 infant fatalities; and Kids II recalled their Rocking Sleepers, involving 694,000 products and five infant fatalities. Parents and caregivers are urged to cease using them.

$2 Million in “Pool Safely” Grants Available to Cities and States

Grants provided under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act) up to $2 million are available in a competitive grant process. The legislation was authored and advanced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) and strongly supported by Safe Kids Worldwide. Urge your communities to submit a grant application!

Safe Kids Supports Legislation to Prevent Furniture Tip-Overs Introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Safe Kids Worldwide is supporting legislation offered by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the STURDY Act, HR 2211, to require the development of a mandatory standard for dressers and other clothing storage units. Rep. Schakowsky is chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, Energy and Commerce Committee. “Every hour, of every day, approximately 3 children are getting injured – over 25,400 per year. Between 2000 and 2011, these tip-overs have resulted in at least 363 fatalities, with most of the innocent victims being less than 8 years old,” said the Congresswoman. In the letter of support, Safe Kids said, “We know that furniture can be manufactured in a way that significantly reduces this risk.”

Forty Safe Kids Coalitions Urged Passage of Law Requiring CO Detectors in HUD Housing

After a near tragic incident involving three girls under age 8 who were exposed to carbon monoxide by a gas leak requiring the evacuation of their home, 40 Safe Kids coalitions joined together in a letter urging passage of legislation in both chambers which would require CO detectors in public housing units. The incident, which took the lives of two of the family’s adult neighbors, revealed that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not require its housing units to have CO detectors. The legislation was introduced by Senator Kamala Harris (CA), and Reps. Joe Cunningham (SC) and Jesús Garcia (IL).

CPSC Commissioner Issues List of Ten “Persistent” Consumer Products Issues That Can Be Resolved

CPSC Commissioner Elliot Kaye issued a statement in early April setting forth 10 “persistent” hazards which, he said, have endured for far too long. He applauded strides made in the past 40 years, but said, “Yet, year after year, we see many of the same hazards produce injuries and deaths. Year after year, the same families, who have lost their children and grandchildren to unsafe products, call upon us to take action.” Kaye’s top 10 list included many issues which put kids at a special risk: furniture tipovers; infant suffocation; drowning; carbon monoxide poisoning; and window covering cord strangulations. 

CPSC and Fisher-Price Warn of Infant Deaths Associated with Rock ‘N Play Product

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Fisher-Price are warning parents and consumers about the company’s Rock ‘N Play product, cautioning them to stop use of the product by 3 months of age or as soon as an infant can roll over. At least ten infant deaths in the product have been reported to the CPSC since 2015,in which infants rolled over onto their front or sides and suffocated. In these cases, the infants were also unrestrained by the product’s harness and the CPSC reiterated its warning to consumers to use such restraints in inclined sleep products. The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged the CPSC to issue a recall on the product.

Executives Indicted in First-Ever Criminal Prosecution for Failure to Disclose Consumer Product Risk

Two California businessmen have been charged with failure to furnish information under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the first such criminal prosecution in the Act’s history. The defendants, Simon Chu and Charley Loh, are also charged with wire fraud and conspiracy. Their indictment states the two ran several corporations that imported and distributed dehumidifiers from China which they knew were defective and dangerous. Despite becoming aware of these hazards as early as 2012, the indictment says Chu and Loh continued to sell the dehumidifiers for six months without notifying the agency.

FDA Investigating 35 Cases of Seizures in Adolescents & Young Adults after E-Cigarette Use

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating a series of 35 cases in which adolescents and young adults experienced seizures after using e-cigarettes. The FDA’s announcement of the investigation noted a “noticeable increase” in such reports since June 2018, saying they “signal a potential emerging safety issue”. Seizures and convulsions are known as potential side effects of nicotine toxicity, most commonly seen in cases of e-liquid ingestion. The announcement cautions parents and teachers to be aware of the popularity of e-cigarettes among minors and of the high nicotine content of such devices. The FDA is encouraging the public to report any cases of people who use e-cigarettes and have had a seizure via their Safety Reporting Portal.

GHSA Report Shows U.S. Pedestrian Deaths at a 30-Year High

According to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 2018 was the deadliest year for American pedestrians in almost 30 years with 6,227 killed in traffic accidents. These figures mean that pedestrian deaths have spiked 30 percent in the last decade, a trend the report’s author attributes primarily to distraction by smartphones and to the increasing market share of SUVs. Over the same decade, cell data use by pedestrians and drivers has increased 4,000 percent. The rising number of SUVs on the road also makes for more deadly pedestrian crashes due to the force exerted by their greater size and weight.

March 2019

FDA Chief Gottlieb Resigns; Was a Leader on Discouraging Teen Vaping  
Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s first Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, resigned in early March. Gottlieb led a strong campaign focusing on what he had called an “epidemic” of teen vaping, which included calling manufacturers to account and pressing them to stop marketing products to teens. The White House recently stated that it is committed to dealing with this problem, supporting Gottlieb’s approach. Commissioner Gottlieb received positive reviews from “both sides of the aisle”. His post will be filled on an acting basis by Dr. Norman Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

Senate Challenges DoD on State of Military Housing
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on March 6 on defects in military housing which put children at risk. Witnesses testified about struggling with homes plagued by mold, rats, bats, lead paint, asbestos and more. Many of the military tenant complaints focused on mold, which exposed children and families to respiratory issues, ear infections, sinus problems and colds. Senator Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot, said, “I hope all of you can look these service members and their families in the eye and tell them that you’re sorry, but then do the right thing starting now.” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, a former U.S. Representative from New Mexico, said the three military branches were drafting a “tenant’s bill of rights.”

California Senator Harris Unveils Legislation to Require CO Detectors in Public Housing  
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has announced new legislation that would require carbon monoxide detectors in almost all U.S. public housing units under the control of HUD—it is not currently required under law. The Senator’s bill comes in the wake of an NBC investigative report into carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings at the Allen Benedict Court public housing complex in Columbia, South Carolina. In January, 2 adult residents died of CO poisoning there. Then, three girls 3, 5 and 8 years old and their mother, the Johnson family, came close to fatal poisoning in the same complex. Inspectors later discovered “high levels of carbon monoxide and natural gas” in all of the complex’s 26 buildings; none of the apartments had CO detectors.  The NBC investigation found there have been at least eleven CO poisoning deaths in federal public housing since 2003. A disproportionate number of the 4.6 million Americans living in public housing are families with small children and senior citizens, who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of CO.

Amazon Stops Selling Disney Drinking Glasses Containing Toxic Metal
Amazon removed Disney drinking glasses following an investigation in the U.K. revealing that the paint on the glasses contained cadmium, a substance found in batteries among other products. Alarmingly, the paint in question could peel off the glasses and be ingested. Cadmium is a metal similar in toxicity to arsenic, mercury or lead and can cause medical conditions including stomach irritation, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Back in 2010, McDonald’s recalled “Shrek Forever After” glasses because of their cadmium content. We heard recently that Amazon had also removed car seats which failed to meet U.S. regulations, along with Walmart. 

February 2019

Safe Kids Coalitions Encounter Counterfeit Car Seats Which Can Put Kids at Risk
Safe Kids coalitions in several western states have recently encountered counterfeit car seats at their child passenger safety check-ups events and stations. Upon further investigation, the counterfeits were found to have been purchased online. The most obvious tell-tale sign that a seat may be counterfeit is whether the seat comes with the NHTSA FMVSS sticker showing the seat fulfills the federal standards. Parents in the market for a car seat should be wary of buying online or through a third-party vendor; online “BOGO” or other deals should be another trigger for suspicion. You can find a tip sheet from Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital here with other tips to look for when examining a car seat. There are also news reports about fake seats sold in the United Kingdom.

Military Housing Unsafe; Defects Include Vermin, Rats, Peeling Lead Paint
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the state of military base housing as it is being privatized. There was testimony on contaminated water, peeling lead paint, asbestos, electrical hazards and other serious deficiencies. According to an investigative report by Reuters families living on Maryland’s Fort Meade suffer from mold-related illnesses as well as ceilings collapsing in children’s bedrooms from mold. At Fort Bragg, NC, a family’s living unit flooded with untreated sewer water and toxic substances remained in their house. The management company delayed requests to change housing. They were finally able to leave but their three children now suffer from severe medical conditions. Members of the Committee pledged to take action. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a former Air Force pilot, called the situation “disgusting.”

GHSA Report Shows Little Progress on Speed-Related Traffic Deaths
A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that speeding is a factor in almost one-third of all motor vehicle-related fatalities in the United States. Despite this, speed is not given enough attention by authorities. Moreover, the public does not see it as a significant problem. The report also found that most speeding-related fatalities occur on rural roads (over 5,000 deaths in 2016 alone). Meanwhile, some urban centers like New York City and Boston have seen success in reducing crashes and speed through innovative Vision Zero efforts. GHSA voiced hope that the concept will spread to suburban and rural communities.

CPSC Releases New Recall App for Beta Testing
The CPSC has released a new, recall app to help Americans find recall information quickly and efficiently from the Commission’s website. At release, Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle said, “We are looking for ways to improve how consumers can access information on recalls” and encouraged consumers to “download CPSC’s Recall App today and let us know how we can make it better.” This means that consumers can check out products while in a store.

New Jersey Lawmakers Consider Ban on Infant Walkers
Infant walkers have been linked to injuries for decades, and now New Jersey is considering legislation to become the first state banning their sale outright. In September, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report which found that over 230,000 infants were treated in emergency rooms for baby walker-related injuries between 1990 and 2014. 90 percent of these injuries came from falls down stairs. Numbers of infant walker injuries have declined slightly over the years, but the persistent volume of hospitalizations has lead the AAP to continue its call for a nationwide ban, which it first issued in 2001. The New Jersey bill, sponsored by State Senator Linda Greenstein, would make it a civil offense to sell any type of infant walker, punishable by a first offense fine of $10,000.