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Pack Rat Habits Harmful To Your Health

Written by on Tuesday, 06 May 2003 7:00 pm
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Your home may have become a dumping ground for hazardous products that could injure or kill you or your loved ones, according to a chilling report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Despite notices, warnings, even recalls on some products, some consumers continue to horde products that warranted significant attention because of inherent dangers according to CPSC's "Recall Roundup".

The commission said the products may be in use in homes or stored away, perhaps to be sold at a garage or yard sale to unsuspecting buyers. Some of them can be repaired, but most should be destroyed or properly disposed.

"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 CPSC chairman Hal Stratton.

The CPSC oversees the safety of 15,000 consumer products and reports an average of 22,000 deaths and 29 million injuries every year related to consumer products. Injuries, often associated with consumer products, kill more children than any disease in the U.S. and account for one sixth of all hospital stays, according to CPSC.

"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.

Consumers can visit the CPSC Web site for a list of current recalls, product notices and other product safety information and they can sign up for recall notices, notifications about hazardous toys and other e-mailed information.

The commission advises that you use the information to inspect your home to make sure you aren't housing dangerous products.

Here are some of the hazardous products that consumers currently are most likely to find in their homes.

  • Old power tools, manufactured before the 1980s, could present an electrocution hazard. Approximately 15 electrocution deaths have been associated with old power tools in recent years because, for example, old metal housings don't provide the double insulation against electric shock as do newer plastic housings. Old power tools also may not have proper grounding, they may have frayed wires or other hazards. You should discard them rather than repair or sell them.

  • Old extension cords, power strips and surge protectors with undersized wires, loose connections, faulty components or improper grounding present fire and shock hazards. In one recent year electrical cords and plugs were involved in about 5,200 fires resulting in 40 deaths. Use UL (Underwriters Laboratory) labeled cords that have polarized plugs or grounded three-pronged plugs.

  • Window blind cords with loops that can strangle children have caused 160 strangulation deaths to children since 1991. In 1994 and in 2000, CPSC worked with the window covering industry to update window blind and pull cords to prevent such deaths. The Window Covering Safety Council offers free repair kits to eliminate some problems.

  • Halogen torchiere floor lamps have caused 290 fires and 25 deaths since 1992, according to the CPSC. Lamps should have a wire or glass guard and bulbs of 300 watts or less to help reduce the fire risk. New models turn off when tipped or when they reach certain temperatures. Cooler fluorescent torchiere are safer and three times as efficient. Free wire guards are available for the older halogen lamps 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. They still account for about 30 deaths per year. Destroy old cribs and those with missing or broken parts. Use only cribs that meet current safety standards.

  • Cadet and Encore brand heaters (models FW, FX, LX, TK, Z, ZA, RA, RK, RLX, RX, RW, and ZC) could cause a fire. Don't use them. Among more than 320 CPSC reports of Cadet and Encore heaters that smoked, sparked, caught fire, emitted flames, or ejected burning particles or molten materials, incidents have allegedly resulted in four deaths, two serious burn injuries and property damage claims exceeding $4.3 million. Cadet will arrange for a free service call for affected RM and ZM heaters. Call the Cadet recall hotline at 800-567-2613 or visit the Web site for more information.

  • Hair dryers made before the early 1990s without immersion protection devices won't prevent electrocution should they fall into the water. Replace old hair dryers with new models that come with a large rectangular ground fault protection plug and the mark of a recognized testing laboratory.

  • Disposable and novelty lighters that are not child-resistant or don't have the standards developed in 1994 have caused hundreds of deaths. Since the standards took effect related fires dropped by 58 percent. Still, in one recent year 2,400 fires resulting in 70 deaths and 480 injuries were blamed on preschoolers playing with lighters. Treat them like matches and guns and keep them secure and away from young kids.

  • Drawstrings around the neck on children's jackets and sweatshirts can catch and strangle children and were the cause of 23 deaths and 56 non-fatal incidents from January 1985 through November 2000. In 1995, the industry eliminated hood and neck drawstrings on kids' jackets and sweatshirts. 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.
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      About the author, Broderick Perkins

    Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.
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