September is Baby Safety Awareness Month – Part II
How to make your home a true safe haven
This is the second part of a two-article series designed to raise awareness of child safety and child injury prevention issues. For the first part, click here.
The Baby Safety Awareness campaign is a month-long event initiated in 1991 by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). JPMA is a not-for-profit organization that brings together about 250 manufacturers of prenatal to preschool products that make up 95% of the U.S. child-care merchandise market. The purpose of the annual campaign is to raise parental awareness of safety issues and of the safe selection and use of baby products. Marasco & Nesselbush personal injury attorneys care deeply about the welfare of children and in support of JPMA’s campaign, have decided to create a two-article series on child safety. In our last post, we highlighted the importance of using straps and harnesses to decrease the risk of injury. In this article, we will analyze common dangers that a child can be exposed to in the home as well as risks connected to defective products.
Injury Prevention at Home
As mentioned above, most unintentional injuries happen at home. Of course, parents are willing to take all necessary measures to prevent any accident that might happen in the one place where the child should feel the safest. Still, some parents may be surprised at how many commonplace objects or design ideas have the propensity to become a potential safety hazard when a young child is around.
One of the most common accidents involves furniture tip-overs. Every year, approximately 25,000 children are treated in the ER for injuries of various seriousness following a tip-over accident. Last year, furniture manufacturing giant IKEA was forced to recall 29 million dressers when lawsuits were filed against the company following fatal accidents involving at least three children. After the receiving reports of the accidents, IKEA urged parents to anchor chests and dressers using furniture straps. Many parents overlook the dangers furniture may pose to a child’s safety because they think that an item as sturdy as a dresser is too heavy to tip over. However, when a child decides to play on furniture – for example, opens a drawer of a dresser and climbs onto it – the center of gravity changes and the dresser can easily tip over, resulting in serious injuries to a child.
In order to prevent other accidents in the home, parents should consider adopting the following safety measures:
- move furniture away from windows
- do not put items that children may find appealing at the top of furniture
- use cabinet latches to prevent children from opening the drawers
- anchor all heavy furniture using straps
- do not leave babies unattended on any furniture to prevent rolling over and falling
- install safety gates
- add corner guards to all sharp-corner surfaces
Home Pool & Hot Tub Safety
According to the report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2005 to 2014, there was an average of 3,536 drowning deaths a year. Other organizations, such as the American Red Cross and the National Swimming Pool Foundation, report that each year 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of deaths in the 1-4 years old age group. Children love playing in pools and hot tubs but parents should not turn a blind eye to the potential risks that water play may pose to their children’s safety.
Adopting the following pool safety tips and measures can greatly reduce associated risks:
- surround the pool with a non-climbable protective fence that is at least four feet high
- install door latches and exit alarms on doors leading to the pool area
- have a professional safety inspector examine your pool and surrounding area
- children should not be allowed to play in the pool or stay in the pool area without adult supervision
Defective product is a legal term that refers to a product that can become a safety hazard because of a design flaw, a manufacturing error or imperfection, or due to inadequate instructions and warnings. A 2014 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showed that in 2012, the use of nursery products was associated with an estimated 77,900 injuries to children under age five that had to be treated in ER rooms across the US. 67% of all those injuries were specifically related to products such as cribs/mattresses, high chairs, infant carriers/car seat carriers, and strollers/carriages. In addition, in the three-year period between 2008 and 2010, CPSC registered 333 deaths associated with nursery products in the same age group. According to the report, “causes of death included positional asphyxia, strangulation, and drowning, among others”.
In recent years, CPSC has repeatedly warned against the dangers related to using slings in baby carriers. When it comes to the former, CPSC advises against using slings to ensure the safety of babies younger than four months of age due to a high risk of suffocation. In a special press release, CPSC stated: “Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling’s fabric can press against an infant’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate.”
In connection with many suffocation accidents, since 2007, millions of baby carriers and slings were recalled due to potential safety hazards. To ensure that the product they are choosing poses no such threat to their child’s safety, parents should look for products with a “JPMA Certified” logo.
When a child sustains injuries or health damage due to a defective product, it is a heavy blow for the whole family. Parents whose children may have suffered in connection with issues raised above should recognize that the law protects the rights of their children. Contacting an experienced defective product lawyer at Marasco & Nesselbush in order to get a free consult and to review the legal options an affected family might have in these circumstances might be the first step to healing and recovery.