CPSC Says Deadly Products Are Still In Use Despite Warnings and Recalls;
Agency Releases "Most Hazardous" List and Urges Home Inspections

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite recall notices and warnings, consumers continue to use products that have the potential to seriously injure or kill, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC today unveiled a list of many common hazardous consumer products and urged consumers to use the list to check their homes and destroy or fix unsafe products.

"These products have previously received substantial attention because they were recalled or addressed by safety standards. But they continue to be used each year, leading to deaths, injuries, and property damage," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "These products may be in any home. They may be sold at yard sales or donated to charity or thrift shops. Some of them can be fixed, but most simply need to be destroyed," he said.

"We don't want to see deaths or serious injuries caused by previously recalled products or by products that don't meet current safety standards. We want to prevent these needless tragedies," said Stratton.

"Through recalls, safety standards, and consumer information, CPSC helps make American homes safer by taking hazardous products off the market and identifying those products that need to be fixed to be safe," Stratton said. He showcased the products on the "most hazardous" list at a news conference today at CPSC headquarters.
Below are some of the hazardous products that consumers are most likely to find in their homes:

Old Power Tools that present an electrocution hazard. In a recent year, there were approximately 15 electrocution deaths associated with old power tools. Old electric power tools (made before the 1980s) may not have modern safety features to prevent electrocution. For example, old power tools were made with metal housings, while newer tools are made with plastic housings to provide double-insulation against electric shock. Old power tools also may not have proper grounding or may have frayed wires or other hazards. Discard old power tools. Do not give them to thrift stores or sell them at a yard sale.

Old Extension Cords that present a fire or shock hazard. Old extension cords, power strips and surge protectors may have undersized wires, loose connections, faulty components or improper grounding. Old extension cords may fail to meet current safety standards and can be overloaded easily. In a recent year, electrical cords and plugs were involved in about 5,200 fires resulting in 40 deaths. Look for cords with the label from an independent testing lab such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL. Use cords that have polarized plugs or grounded three-pronged plugs to reduce the risk of shock. Don't overload cords with too many appliances.

Window blind cords with loops loops that can strangle children. Window blinds may have pull cords that end in a loop or inner cords that can form a loop if pulled by children. Both can cause strangulation. CPSC knows of about 160 strangulation deaths to children in looped window covering cords since 1991. In 1994, CPSC worked with industry to provide a repair for old window blinds to eliminate the loops on the end of pull cords and to eliminate that looped cord on new blinds. In 2000, CPSC worked with industry to repair old blinds so that the inner cord can't form a loop if pulled by a young child. The industry also redesigned new blinds to address this hazard. Old window blinds with looped pull cords and inner cords that can be pulled to form a loop must be repaired. There are about 85 million units sold each year. The Window Covering Safety Council offers free repair kits that include small plastic attachments to prevent the inner cords from being pulled loose, and safety tassels for pre-1995 window blinds with outer pull cords ending in loops. Consumers should cut the loops and install a safety tassel at the end of each pull cord. Consumers who have vertical blinds, draperies or pleated shades with continuous loop cords should request special tie-downs to prevent strangulation in those window coverings. Call the Council at (800) 506-4636 or go to their web site: www.windowcoverings.org

Halogen torchiere floor lamps that can cause fires when combustibles such as drapes come too close to the bulb. These lamps need a wire or glass guard and a bulb that is 300 watts or less to help reduce the fire risk. More than 40 million halogen floor lamps made before 1997 by numerous firms were recalled because they have no guard to protect against fire. CPSC knows of 290 fires and 25 deaths since 1992 related to halogen torchiere floor lamps. People can get the free wire guards by sending a postcard to Catalina Lighting Consumer Services, 18191 NW 68th Avenue, Miami, FL 33015.

Old cribs made before CPSC and industry safety standards can entrap, strangle, or suffocate children. Old cribs with more than 2-3/8 inches between crib slats; corner posts; or cut-outs on the headboard or footboard present suffocation and strangulation hazards. Cribs with missing or broken parts or cornerposts higher than 1/16 inch also present a risk of death. CPSC estimates there are about 30 deaths per year in cribs, many of which are older, used models. Destroy old cribs and those with missing or broken parts or cornerposts higher than 1/16 inch. Use only those cribs that meet current safety standards.

Cadet Heaters that could cause a fire. CPSC is aware of more than 320 reports of Cadet and Encore heaters (models FW, FX, LX, TK, Z, ZA, RA, RK, RLX, RX, RW, and ZC) that smoked, sparked, caught fire, emitted flames, or ejected burning particles or molten materials. These incidents have allegedly resulted in four deaths, two serious burn injuries and property damage claims exceeding $4.3 million. Due to Cadet's bankruptcy, the opportunity to obtain discounted heaters expired on February 17, 2002. CPSC strongly urges consumers to stop using these 1.9 million recalled Cadet and Encore heaters and replace them. In addition, some RM and ZM model heaters sold separately or provided as replacements for some of the previously recalled heaters can overheat and cause a fire. Cadet will arrange for a free service call for affected RM and ZM heaters. The Cadet recall hotline is 800-567-2613 and the Web site is www.cadetco.com/recall/recall_program.htm

Hairdryers without immersion protection devices to prevent electrocution. Since the early 1990s, hairdryers have had built-in shock protection devices to prevent electrocution if they fall into water. However, electrocutions from old hairdryers are still occasionally reported. Replace the old hairdryer with a new one with a large rectangular plug and the mark of a recognized testing laboratory.

Disposable and novelty lighters that are not child-resistant. CPSC set a standard (effective in 1994) requiring disposable and novelty lighters to be child-resistant. Since the standard took effect, there has been a 58 percent reduction in fires caused by children under age 5, representing the prevention of hundreds of deaths and injuries and thousands of fires. However, in a recent year there were still 2,400 fires resulting in 70 deaths and 480 injuries because of children under age 5 playing with lighters. Keep all cigarette lighters away from children and make sure all of your lighters are child-resistant.

Drawstrings around the neck on children's jackets and sweatshirts can catch and strangle children. In 1995, CPSC worked with industry to eliminate hood and neck drawstrings on kids' jackets and sweatshirts. CPSC knows of 23 deaths and 56 non-fatal incidents from January 1985 through November 2000. Pull out or cut all neck drawstrings on children's jackets and sweatshirts. Do not sell them at garage sales or give them to thrift stores. In 1998, CPSC found that many thrift stores were selling recalled, hazardous products, including children's jackets with drawstrings.
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