Product recalls can be incredibly scary, especially when you're trying to ensure the safety of everyone in your home. Parents have enough to worry about without discovering that their crib or high chair is faulty, or even that a bag of peas they bought for dinner is unsafe. While Newt Scamander's sage advice about not worrying because it makes you "suffer twice," is a great philosophy, in the case of recalls, as with most parenting matters, it's still wise to follow updates on news sources and social media to ensure that what you're using is healthy and safe for your family.
In the event that a recall does occur, these helpful tips can assist you in making wise choices about what to do with recalled items without going into panic mode.
Before you worry about your product being recalled, check it well to see if it's even affected. Just because it was purchased at the same store where recalls have been made doesn't mean it's the same brand or product that's being recalled. Look at all of the information on your product's codes, make, model, manufacturing date and any other listed information to see if it is affected.
If it's not, you can breathe a sigh of relief and move on with your day, knowing it wasn't your product. If your product is affected, take steps to remedy it as soon as possible.
If the recall is food-related, avoid opening the food if you haven't opened it already. According to FoodSafety.gov, if you open the product, you won't be able to see if there's bacteria or other contamination — the most common cause of a food recall — present. You could also expose yourself to the contamination if you open it, so keep it sealed.
If you do handle the food, be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap afterward and don't touch anything else until you do. Wash for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from potential germs.
One of the most obvious things to do when you discover that your product has been recalled is to stop using it until you have more information. Sometimes this may not be necessary. For example, if you discover that the paint on a pair of bookends meant for adults may contain lead, but it's on a high shelf that your toddler isn't going to be able to reach, it may not matter as much to you. You may wish to discard the item or to keep it in a safe place where the child will never encounter it.
If the product is something that is an obvious safety hazard, such as a crib that has been found to cause injury, it would be a good idea to stop using that item to ensure the safety of your child.
Some recalls, particularly when applicable to children's toys, are only due to a small part that may become a choking hazard. While this is still a serious matter that needs to be handled immediately, especially if you have a toddler who is apt to put things in their mouth, the manufacturer may have suggestions that can help you avoid having to get rid of the toy completely.
Some toys can simply have their small parts removed and discarded to protect your child. Others may need to be returned for a refund or replacement. Check to see what the manufacturer states about the recall to find out what to do in this situation.
If you're really just not sure about a product, go with your gut and just get rid of it. Kids in Danger executive director Nancy Cowles advises parents to just get rid of something if it feels like it's unsafe to have in your home, in order to prevent harm from coming to anyone in your family. Cowles says that it's just not worth the risk, especially when it comes to your children.
While it's never a good feeling to waste our dollars on something that we can't keep, or to take away a beloved toy from a child, it's a much better feeling knowing that our families are healthy and safe.
If you've made a major purchase, such as a crib, high chair or car seat, and it has been recalled, check to see if replacements are available. Always keep your receipts for extra insurance, especially on larger products, but know that many companies will issue replacements without them due to the hazardous nature of recalled products. Many companies will list that information in a press release when a recall is issued.
Make sure to register your products with the manufacturer when available to make this as easy as possible. The manufacturer will then have you on record to make the refund or replacement process simpler.
Many car dealers offer free repairs to correct problems with their vehicles when they become known — which is a much more affordable solution than getting a whole new car because of an airbag malfunction or other easy fix! Some dealers will even send you a postcard with instructions for scheduling your recall when such an event occurs.
While not all companies will offer the same service, some may provide a repair for recalled products depending on where it was purchased and if a repair is possible. This is usually the case whenever a recall is issued for a missing piece or there's an easy fix for a product.
You obviously can't give a toddler a toy that's been recalled as a choking hazard, but that doesn't always mean you have to get rid of it entirely. If you have an older child whose toys are kept safety out of the toddler's reach who would never put it in their mouth and still enjoy it, you can pass it along. Some teens even like making "Frankenstein toy" crafts from discarded toy parts.
Don't donate the item, as you want to it from harming other toddlers, but do see if recycling facilities for the item exist to help you avoid having to throw it away entirely. Sometimes you can repurpose an item yourself, such as gluing too-small pieces of a toy to a photo frame or lamp.
People often give their pets scraps, and while chickens might be fine eating the wilted lettuce you turn your nose at, contaminated food is dangerous for animals as well as humans. Many dogs might seem like they have stronger stomachs than people, but bacteria can give them food poisoning too. Some recalls are also for potential cross-contamination of things like glass, and you don't want your animals eating that either!
It goes without saying not to pass your food items on to others or donate them if they've been recalled as well. Stay safe and follow the directions to either discard the items or return them to the store for a refund.
It's impossible to prevent any recalls from happening on anything you own, so cut yourself some slack. What you can do is sign up for alerts from the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to find out what is recalled as soon as possible. Only buy things from trustworthy sources that you have researched, and never use products like cribs or car seats secondhand if they are old and there is no information about them. Definitely avoid buying them used at yard sales.
Websites like SaferProducts.gov, We Make It Safer, Safe Kids Worldwide and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Child Seat Recall Campaign Listing can all be handy when checking for recalls.