When you buy a product, the typical, albeit ideal expectation is that it will serve its advertised purpose without a hitch. While there are the occasional misses and breakdowns, the basic understanding is that safety will not be an issue. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Every year, people are injured or even killed by seemingly harmless things they purchased with the preconceived notion that their lives would not be at stake. However, everyday products such as food, toys, cars and drugs just to name a few, are recalled year after year due to dangerous pitfalls that become apparent after they’ve already been sold.
Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission says, “Our goal is to get products out of people’s homes before a tragedy strikes. The last thing we want to happen is for someone to say ‘if only I’d known.”
“An average of one or two children’s products are recalled every week, but our surveys reveal that less than half of parents are aware of even one recall a month,” says Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of Kids in Danger, a nonprofit organization that was founded by the parents of Danny Keysar who died at only 16 months of age after an accident occurred with a recalled portable crib.
Don’t Think It Can’t Happen to You
Awareness is the most crucial element to safeguarding you and your family from potential harm. According to Cowles, a lot of people have confidence that they can spot hazardous products with ease, but that it is not often the case. While companies are required by law to immediately report any potentially harmful issues they may find with their products, some do not take the responsibility as seriously as others, thereby putting the lives of their customers on the line.
Although no amount of fines can ever be enough to mitigate permanent injury or even death, companies that fail to report hazardous problems with their products can face up to $15 million in fines to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Prior to 2008, the maximum amount was $1.8 million, but following a string of major recalls of children’s products from China, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act significantly raised the penalty.
Scott Wolfson, Director of Communications for the CPSC reports, “On average, only about 15 to 30 percent of people respond to a recall notice.” If there is a recall notice that involves a product you may have bought, it is undoubtedly in your best interest to take the notice seriously and proceed accordingly. By staying put and not doing anything, you are putting yourself and your loved ones at risk.
As much as the responsibility primarily lies with companies to notify the public of harmful threats with their products immediately, it is also on you to be prepared. Here are some recall tips you may want to follow.
Tip 1: Research Before You Buy
SaferProducts.gov is a resource you can use to research products that have been recalled or reported on. Recalls.gov offers a free app to Android users who want to stay in the know on the fly.
Tip 2: Keep Yourself Informed
Be sure to fill out and return and registration cards that may come with products you buy, especially when it comes to items for infants and toddlers such as cribs and strollers. You will also want to update manufacturers with your current address if it changes and don’t worry about spam mail because by law, companies that make children’s products are prohibited from doing so.
Take a minute to sign up for a free newsletter from ConsumerReports.org and if you want to stay on top of things as they occur, Recalls.gov gives you recall news in real time. The CR National School Safety Coalition has a Facebook page and Twitter (@CRKidSafety) that regularly posts news and updates to keep you safe and aware.
Tip 3: Report and Respond
If you notice any potentially dangerous issues with a product you purchased, alerting the manufacturer directly gives you the best opportunity to have the item fixed or even replaced regardless of if there is a recall or not. Filling out a report at SaferProducts.gov will also help government entities take notice and spread the word to prevent massive harm.
Lastly, we can’t stress this enough, but if you are notified of a recall for a product you have, take it seriously and don’t continue using it. Find out as much information as you can on the recall and act fast to get it repaired, replaced, or returned for a refund.