When Bargains & Garage Sales Can Be Dangerous

Do you brake for yard sales?  Bargain-hunt on Craigslist?  Raid Grandma’s attic for useful items?

You may unintentionally bring home danger. According to an article in The New York Times, there are many items that should never be handed down or passed along. And the list is lengthy!

Baby cribs, for instance: From 2007 to 2010, 150 deaths were caused by strangulation or suffocation in unsafe cribs, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some deaths were caused by so-called drop-side cribs, which allowed parents to lower one side of the crib for easier access; in some terrible instances, infants were trapped in the gap and suffocated.

Other deaths were caused by weak mattress supports and soft bedding. In response, the commission issued strict new regulations, which took effect on June 28, prohibiting the sale of all drop-side cribs and ordering manufacturers to strengthen slats and mattress supports, make hardware more durable and subject their products to tougher testing. [from The New York Times]

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still buy unsafe cribs at yard sales or garage sales, on Craigslist or eBay. And that hand-me-down crib from your sister-in-law may also not be up to current safety standards.

Other common in-demand items are child car seats and bicycle helmets. Even the latest models could have their safety compromised if they have already been in a crash, which could have done structural damage.

Sometimes even small, seemingly innocuous items can be deadly. Those vending machine and dime store trinkets for children? The ones imported from other countries may be full of lead, cadmium and other toxic materials, according to the safety commission.

“There’s no guarantee if you buy children’s jewelry used that it won’t contain high levels of toxic materials,” Mr. Mays said. [That’s Donald Mays, senior director of product safety at Consumer Reports]

And let’s not forget about that latest of words that strikes fear into the heart of just about everyone: BEDBUGS. Mattresses and pillows are most likely to harbor those creepy-crawlies.

According to Stacy Genovese, technical director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the list of secondhand items to avoid includes plasticware used to store or reheat food, which may contain toxic chemicals; toys made before the early 1970s, which may be covered in lead paint; and, more obviously, mattresses and pillows, which may host bedbugs and dust mites.

The best advice these experts give is to always check to see if the item has undergone a recall. (Bookmark the recall page on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website:  www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html?tab=recalls.)

To read the full article from The New York Times, click here:  Bargains on Used Goods May Prove Costly

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