Safety Begins at Home
We talk frequently in this space about safety issues involving promotional products. A heart-wrenching story out of Pennsylvania this week has me diverting a little, moving over to consumer products in general. In Aliquippa, a two-year old and her three-year old sister died from something seemingly as harmless as playing in the drawers of a dresser. They enjoyed climbing into the drawers, and the unsecured dresser then toppled over on top of them. The coroner determined both girls died from asphyxia, as their chests were crushed—a horrible accident, and tragic loss.
Data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that this kind of accident is not uncommon. From 2000 to 2011, more than 25,000 children in the U.S. visited emergency rooms with furniture-related accidents, and nearly 300 of them died. The dead ranged in age from one month to eight years old. To put it into perspective, according to the CPSC, on average, one child dies every two weeks when a TV, piece of furniture, or appliance falls over onto them.
While the CPSC issues safety alerts, like the "Anchor It and Protect a Child," they are just part of voluntary guidelines and lack the legal requirement of total compliance, according to Rachel Weintraub, senior counsel for the Consumer Federation of America. A bill introduced in 2005 resulted in the CPSC releasing these guidelines on furniture stabilization, warning labels, and safety tips. "There was a lot of hope at the time of the legislation that the voluntary standard would be enough," Weintraub said. "Unfortunately, I don't think it has been."
That got me glancing around the house a bit. Where else does danger lurk in common household items? According to a countdown from "How Stuff Works" the top 10 most dangerous items are:
8. Pressed Wood Products
7. Carpet Chemicals
6. Laser Printer Chemicals
5. Lead Paint
4. Air Fresheners/ Cleaning Solutions
2. Flame Retardants
Does this make you think? I know it had that affect on me. Could you take a few moments to glance around YOUR house? With all the conversations in our industry about BPA and Phthalates, you've probably cleaned those out long ago. But the rest? They might hurt someone you love. Let's resolve to work together to make sure that doesn't happen.
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.