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House Approves Several Child Safety Measures

On October 9, the House approved, by voice vote, the Consumer Product Safety Act (H.R. 2474), the Danny Keysar Child Product Safety Notification Act (H.R. 1699), the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act (H.R. 814), and the Pool and Spa Safety Act (H.R. 1721). The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the measures on September 27 (see The Source, 9/28/07).

Speaking in support of H.R. 1699, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said, “It is clear that our system for recalling dangerous products is simply broken. It is failing American families. The recall system relies on the media to pick up the story and spread the word, but many times the stories are not picked up and the news does not reach the owners of defective products. In fact, some estimate that the recall effectiveness rate for products under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission is a mere 16 percent. Notification targeted to owners of the product is rare, and many parents remain unaware of the dangers…This legislation is a commonsense solution to a very real and pervasive problem. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 64,700 children under the age of five were treated in emergency rooms across the country for injuries associated with nursery products in 2003 at a cost of $2.5 billion, and that figure has almost certainly risen in the last four years. And even more tragically, an average of 50 children under the age of five die each year in incidents associated with nursery products, and about 16 of these deaths each year are associated with cribs…Congress needs to act to make sure that these kinds of senseless tragedies don’t occur again.”

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) said, “This bill [H.R. 1699] aims to improve the recall process of children’s products, such as toys and furniture, by requiring the inclusion of a product safety registration card with each product at the point of sale…Children have been injured by the continued use of a recalled product simply because the parents were…unaware of the product’s dangerous nature. Our hope is that this registration program will render these types of accidents preventable. Now, my colleagues, of course children’s products are often passed along to other friends or family members once their child…outgrows its use. We all know that. We put it up in the attic, then we hear a friend at church say they have a new child and we bring down this particular product…This legislation will attempt to reach these legacy owners by permanently marking each product with the manufacturer’s name, model number, and other information used in consumer product recalls. A parent can simply research the item on the Internet or call the manufacturer to verify a product’s safety if he or she gets this product either in a yard sale or it’s given to them by a friend. This is good. To the extent this measure improves notification to parents of potentially dangerous products, all of us should support this bill. At the same time, we all know that nothing is more important to a child’s safety than vigilant parental supervision. I hope the good intentions of this legislation prove effective for both the consumers who purchase the products and the companies who will have to maintain these databases.”

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