Drop-Side Crib Recalls and Deaths Spur Law Proposal

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crib recalls lead to proposalIt's hard to criticize a politician for being, well, a politician. And even when what they're proposing isn't really necessary, the publicity their bluster can bring can be of benefit.

And such is New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's plan to get Congress to ban the now known-to-be dangerous drop-side cribs. Hopefully, the attention she's garnered through her proposal will serve to help remind all those out there who still have one of these at home that it might be time to trade in for another model.

As for the proposed law, it wouldn't do more than is already in the works -- and with the way Congress works, it wouldn't even be law quickly enough to overtake the ongoing actions by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the industry itself.CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum has said repeatedly that a new standard (that's government-speak for the way things need to be made) will be in place by year's end that will forever change the way cribs are made. That includes no more drop-side cribs, whose hardware failures mostly at the hands of cheap imported models have been blamed in more than 30 deaths over the past nine years.

But drop-side cribs are functionally banned already. And the nation's biggest retailer of children's products, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, stopped selling them this year. And the new federal rules that are being developed include more than just a ban on the once ubiquitous -- now unacceptable -- basic of nursery furniture.

"The kind of rigorous testing that will be in the new standard will address all of the other problems with cribs," said Nancy Cowles, executive director of the advocacy group Kids In Danger.

Cowles, a mainstay in the safe-cribs movement, sees no harm in the Gilibrand bill -- just the positive that always comes with drawing attention to an issue that requires public attention. The senator's heart is in the right place and it's not the first time she's tried to give the issue of crib safety a boost. In April she reached out to Craigslist to try to have ads of a certain recalled crib pulled down.

It is illegal to resell a recalled product, but that hasn't stopped people from trying, either at yard sales or through such venues as Craigslist.

The CPSC has long struggled with reaching people who have had dangerous products in their home and either don't see warnings or ignore them for a variety of reasons.

And more drop-side recalls are on the way, CPSC officials told Consumer Ally. Already, some 7 million drop-side cribs have been involved in 11 recalls over the past five years.

So, thanks to Sen. Gilibrand for putting the issue on the table again. Going forward, the big challenge remains of how to get the old cribs out of circulation -- not in stopping new ones from being made.

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