CPSC Warns Of Holiday Risks For Infants And Young Children While Visiting Relatives

As many parents begin planning extended stays and visits to the homes of family and friends, federal safety officials are warning consumers to be aware of the hidden dangers that children may face in unfamiliar environments.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a holiday travel warning this week, encouraging parents and caregivers to pack accordingly and be alert for potential hazards that could pose harm to children in homes that may not be “child-proofed”.

The holiday season poses a variety of injury hazards for children each year, typically involving Christmas trees falling, small ornaments hanging low that could be choked on, electrocution risks from holiday lights and unfamiliar or non-age appropriate toys. However, the CPSC indicates that parents should also take extra precaution to protect their children against non-holiday specific safety risks.

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Officials are encouraging parents to consider where a baby or young child will sleep when visiting a relative, recommending that families never use a crib that is more than 10 years old, especially if it features older designs with drop sides. Families should also be aware of recalled inclined sleepers that were sold in recent years, but have now been linked to a risk of infant death.

Millions of inclined infant sleepers have been recalled over the past year, due to design problems that may cause children to suffocate when they are old enough to roll over independently. The inclined sleepers have been linked to at least 1,108 reports of problems where babies were found face down, including 73 infant deaths that occurred between January 2005 and June 2019.

Officials also warn parents and caregivers to be cautious about window cord dangers, since reports are received about once a month involving children between 7 months and 10 years old who die from window cord strangulation.

CPSC data has indicates that at least 184 children were strangled to death between 1996 and 2012. More than 100 children sustained severe injuries, many resulted in permanent brain damage, neurological issues, scarring and permanent loss of mobility.

The agency is also warning parents about other common household dangers such as furniture tip-over risks due to furniture not properly being anchored to the wall. Furniture tip-over problems are among the top hidden hazards in the home, and have caused at least 459 deaths over the last 18 years, according to the CPSC. The latest report issued earlier this month indicates 37% of child fatalities involved falling televisions, 34% involved both televisions and furniture, and 24% involved furniture such as a chest, dresser, or a bureau.

Children are most susceptible to tip-over accidents, due to their height and propensity to try to climb on a TV stand or dresser to reach remotes, gaming equipment, or toys. During the holiday season in an unfamiliar environment, and with new attractions, children could be prone to climb on an unanchored piece of furniture to reach for something, which could result in a traumatic event.

Lastly, the agency warned parents to never let their children operate an elevator on their own and to always stay clear from the door to prevent becoming entrapped between the door. The warning indicates children have been crushed to death, or have suffered multiple skull and vertebrae fractures over the years, as well as asphyxiation events.

CPSC Chairman Robert Adler recommended parents treat taking infants and small children to others’ homes as they would to a new playground, and always be aware of potential pitfalls that could lead to injury.

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