CPSC Releases 'Top Five Hidden Home Hazards'

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is cautioning the public about the many dangers at home with its recent release of the "Top Five Hidden Home Hazards." The hazards listed are associated with products that people may be using every day, but are unaware of the dangers that they can cause.

Each year, CPSC estimates, 33.1 million people are injured by consumer products in the home. Some hazards are from products the agency has warned about for years; others come from new products and technologies.

"The home is where people feel comfortable and secure, but constant awareness is the key to keeping families safe," said Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "CPSC is aiming to increase awareness of the hidden hazards around the home in order to help consumers protect against these dangers."

Number one on the list is "Magnets." Since 2005, CPSC reports that there has been one related death, 86 injuries, and 8 million magnetic toys recalled. In several hundred incidents, magnets have fallen out of various toys and been swallowed by children. If two or more magnets, or a magnet and another metal object are swallowed separately, they can attract to one another through intestinal walls and get trapped in place, CPSC says. Parents and physicians may think that the materials will pass through the child without consequence, but magnets can attract in the body and twist or pinch the intestines, causing holes, blockages, infection, and death, if not treated properly and promptly.

CPSC instructs parents to watch carefully for loose magnets and magnetic pieces and keep them away from younger children (less than 6).

Number two on the list is "Recalled Products."Each year there about 400 recalls, CPSC reports. Consumers must remain aware of the latest safety recalls to keep dangerous recalled products away from family members.

To help get dangerous products out of the home, CPSC's recommends joining its "Drive To One Million" campaign and sign up for free email notifications at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.

Number three on the list is "Tip-overs." This hazard contributes an average of 22 deaths per year--31 in 2006--and an estimated 3,000 injuries. Furniture, TVs, and ranges can tip over and crush young children. Deaths and injuries occur when children climb onto, fall against, or pull themselves up on television stands, shelves, bookcases, dressers, desks, and chests, CPSC said. TVs placed on top of furniture can tip over causing head trauma and other injuries. Items left on top of the TV, furniture, and countertops, such as toys, remote controls, and treats might tempt kids to climb.

CPSC recommends that parents verify that all furniture is stable on its own and, for added security, anchored to the floor or attached to a wall. Free-standing ranges and stoves should be installed with anti-tip brackets.

Number four on the list is "Windows & Coverings." An average of 12 deaths occur annually from window cords and an average of 9 deaths and an estimated 3,700 injuries occur to children annually from window falls.

To eliminate the chance of strangulation, CPSC says parents should use cordless blinds or keep cords and chains permanently out of the reach of children by using a tie-down device. Also, never place a child's crib or playpen within reach of a window blind. Kids can also be injured or die from falling out of windows. Parents shouldn't rely on window screens to keep kids in and should install window guards or stops.

Number 5 on the list is "Pool & Spa Drains." From 2002-2004, 15 injuries and two fatalities have resulted from the powerful suction of a pool drain holding an adult or child underwater. The body can become sealed against the drain or hair can be pulled in and tangled. Missing or broken drain covers are a major reason many entrapment incidents occur.

Pool and spa owners, CPSC says, should consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS), which detects when a drain is blocked and automatically shuts off the pool pump or interrupts the water circulation to prevent an entrapment. Before using a pool or spa, swimmers should inspect it for entrapment hazards and check to make sure appropriate drain covers are in place and undamaged.

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