The promise of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act after 10 years

The promise of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act after 10 years
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Our son Danny was killed when he was 16 months old by a defective portable crib. That was in 1998. We have spent the last twenty years working to prevent more babies from dying from defective products.

After we buried Danny, we learned that 1.5 million portable cribs of similar collapsing, top-rail design, produced by five manufacturers, were sold and then recalled, but most may still be in use. These are dangerous, unregulated products that killed 19 babies. The Playskool Travel Lite that killed Danny took the life of one baby for every 2000 units sold.

At the tenth anniversary of our son’s death, in 2008, we were hopeful that Washington would change the children’s product safety system.  As Danny’s parents, we saw the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August of 2008 as an important legislative accomplishment. It gave us hope that other children would not suffer as our son did when the top rails of the Playskool Travel-Lite crib he slept in collapsed around his neck and strangled him.

Now at the 20th anniversary of Danny’s death and the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, we are overwhelmed by the positive changes as well as concerned about the need for more work to be done to further improve our product safety system.

Before the law was enacted there was no requirement that children’s products be tested for safety. The U.S. regulatory system allowed untested and dangerous children’s products to easily enter the marketplace. Parents learned about their flaws only when children were injured or died.

Since Danny’s death, we have done our best to improve America’s children’s product safety system. We rejoiced when Congress finally passed the CPSIA, including the Danny Keysar Child Safety Notification Act – Danny’s Law – named after our son. It assured parents that for the first time juvenile products had to be independently tested for safety before we brought them into our homes.

The law requires the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to issue strong safety standards that infant and toddler products must meet. It also provides parents with the opportunity to register their products with the manufacturer – making sure they would be notified about recalls.

Importantly, the CPSIA also ensures childcare facilities and other public accommodations can only use safe cribs that meet federal standards. Our Danny died in a licensed childcare home that had just been inspected by the state days before.

The CPSIA also led to the creation of a powerful product safety tool – the Consumer Product Safety Incident DatabaseSaferProducts.gov. It allows consumers to submit and search “reports of harm” about products. Today the database enables individuals to scan all reports about products and spot potential safety problems long before reported incidents may have triggered a recall.

Children are safer today – at sleep and at play – than ever before because of the regulations in the CPSIA.

But we have more work to do: more strong product standards should be developed as part of Danny’s law and SaferProducts.gov can be made even more useful to many more people.

Danny would be starting his senior year in college now. We wish there was no law named after him. We wish we never heard about the CPSC. But now that we know how many defective products are out there, we wish that every parent would know that too.

Linda Ginzel and Boaz Keysar are co-founders of Kids In Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by fighting for product safety.