Keeping You and Yours Safe

by Chris Bjorklund

We hear about so many consumer product recalls on the news, it’s easy to tune them out—another car recalled, another strangulation death by a window cord, another fire caused by a defective space heater. But defective products injure and kill thousands of people every year, which is why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was created in 1972. Essentially, the CPSC’s job is to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death caused by thousands of consumer products under its jurisdiction. The agency is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that can injure children or pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. It also works with manufacturers to recall defective products and redesign them to make them safer.

To this end, the CPSC now has a searchable product database where you can learn of recalls before buying a product. You’ll find listings for everything from baby strollers and rattles to cigarette lighters, power tools and scuba equipment. You can also easily report an accident or product defect by using the online report form or calling the CPSC at (800) 638-2772. Here’s what you’ll need to make a report:

  1. A description of the consumer product or substance
  2. The name of the manufacturer, importer or private labeler of the product
  3. A description of an illness, injury or death (or the risk of illness, injury or death) related to use of the product
  4. The date or estimated date when the incident occurred or when you first became aware of the potential for the product to act in an unsafe manner
  5. A description of who you are (consumer, health care professional, a government agency)
  6. Your name and mailing address. This information will never be posted on saferproducts.gov, but it is required to post a report on the website.
  7. Your permission to publish your report on saferproducts.gov
  8. Your verification that the report is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge, information and belief. Manufacturers are encouraged to investigate these unsafe product reports and communicate promptly to the CPSC.

If you become aware of any product hazards or defects, do your part by filing a report with the CPSC. The more people report, the more we all benefit by avoiding potential injury or damage caused by poorly designed products. You would warn your own family, why not the rest of us?