Danger could be lurking in your life, and it could be a lot closer than you might realize.
Hundreds of products are recalled every year, and it isn't unusual for less than 5 percent to be returned or repaired following an official announcement by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. That means even though a product that might have caused deaths or started fires, consumers either ignored the warning or weren't aware of it.
"We know most recalled products, no matter how dangerous, remain in homes," said Nancy Cowles, executive director for the safety advocacy group Kids in Danger.
Consumers have gotten somewhat tone-deaf to recall announcements, and it is fairly common to decide that what happened to someone else won't happen in your home. And yard sales spread recalled products to consumers who were unaware there was a problem in the first place.
Spread the Word
"We often say newer is better, because older products can pose safety risks that are forgotten and never addressed," commission spokesman Scott Wolfson told DailyFinance. "Before you set up a yard sale or an online auction, take a few moments and go on SaferProducts.gov to see if your products were recalled."
Government officials and safety advocates say they hope consumers pay more attention to recalls and don't pass along dangerous products by selling them or giving them away.
"When we talk to consumers in the secondhand marketplace about a dangerous product they pulled out of the attic to sell," Wolfson said, "they often say: 'I didn't know.' We want consumers to know about recalls and to know that the safety standards for children's products are much stronger today."
Here are seven recalled products that are believed to be in millions of homes across the country. Is yours one of them?
7 Dangerous Recalled Products You Might Have in Your Home
7 Dangerous Recalled Products You May Have in Your Home
These devices keep basements from getting musty and help prevent it getting too clammy in your home on a summer's day. But many of them can cause fires. More than 2.5 million dehumidifiers (all made in China by Gree Electric Applicances) were recalled in 2013 and 2014 because they can start fires: Danby, DéLonghi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire,GE (GE),Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima. Some 500 incidents involving these humidifiers overheating have been reported, including more than 100 that started fires. The humidifiers should not be used. Gree is arranging for refunds ($110 to $400) for anyone who bought one.
This reclined infant seat, designed for babies to sleep in, has been connected to at least six deaths by government investigators. Dozens more incidents also were attributed to the product made by the now-defunct Baby Matters. Consumers who have Nap Nanny products are urged to stop using them. A handful of retailers, including Toys R Us and Amazon.com (AMZN), offered refunds to their customers.
After a recall of hundreds of thousands of chenille robes sold by catalog retailer Blair over concerns about their flammability, the CPSC learned that at least nine women had died wearing robes that had ignited. The recall has been re-announced several times, a tactic typically taken when consumer response has been determined to be sub-par for the hazard.
More than 2 million of these magnetic toys were sold. Dozens of kids required medical treatment after swallowing the balls. The high-powered magnets can twist inside the intestines of anyone who swallows them, posing a risk of death or serious injury. Initially, the company, Maxfield & Oberton, refused to participate in the recall and rebranded the toy for adults. The government sued, and the company has since settled and is offering refunds.
Some recalled products are particularly problematic because they are so durable. Perhaps none have posed such as long-term hazard as the Lane cedar chest. In 1996, Lane recalled 12 million chests, made between 1912 and 1987, after at least a half-dozen children died from suffocation after being trapped inside the chests. More deaths were reported since the recall, including two more this year. Lane offers a free replacement lock that prevents entrapments.