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Even children's products can endanger little ones' safety

For most Chicagoans, having a baby makes them aware for the first time of potential dangers lurking in their home. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has a safety list designed for parents. However, it's also worthwhile for anyone, including family members and caregivers, who spends time with young children.

Safety gates are essential at the top of stairways for keeping children from falling down the stairs. They can also be used to keep little ones out of areas of the home such as the kitchen where they could be hurt.

If you have cords on your curtains, draperies or window blinds, make sure that they have tie-down or tension devices to keep the cords tight and prevent children from getting their head tangled in a cord loop. Safety experts recommend that people with young children use cordless window coverings. However, the Window Covering Safety Council offers free retrofit kits to help protect children from tragic accidents.

Even products made for children can prove dangerous. That's why it's essential for parents to keep an eye out for recalled children's products that could cause harm or even death. The CPSC and other organizations maintain easily-accessible lists of recalled products.

The CPSC recommends buying clothing with Velcro fasteners, zippers and snaps rather than drawstrings. Drawstrings such as those found on hoodies and other outerwear can get caught on playground equipment and other things, potentially causing strangulation.

Parents should be careful about cribs as well. Mattresses should be firm and fit in the crib snugly so that the baby won't suffocate. Slats should be separated by no more than 2 and 3/8 inches to prevent the baby's head from getting stuck. If you've been handed down a crib by a family member or picked up one in a second-hand store, you should be particularly careful because older cribs may not conform with current safety regulations.

There should also be no soft bedding, pillows or comforters in the crib. These can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as well as suffocation.

While most manufacturers of children's products take safety very seriously, we all still hear about products being recalled because they have the potential to do harm or in fact already have harmed a child. By taking civil action against manufacturers and others responsible for unsafe and defective products, consumers can help protect the safety of all children.

Source: Family Education, "Child Care Safety Checklist for Parents," accessed May. 01, 2015

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