Chicago Couple’s Advocacy Leads to New Rules for Kids’ Playpens

New rules recently released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission have added stricter requirements to ensure the safety of children’s playpens.

The consumer safety law to which the regulations have been added was originally passed in 2008. The law was enacted following significant efforts by one Chicago couple. Fourteen years ago, the couple lost their 16-month-old child after a faulty playpen collapsed and strangled him.

At the time of the boy’s death, four other children had already died following similar incidents. In fact, the product had been recalled in 1993, but the childcare center where the accident occurred was not aware of the recall.

Based on the new rules, playpens must now undergo independent tests of their stability, to ensure they will not collapse and trap children inside. Advocates are hopeful that the implementation of these new regulations will prevent further fatalities. Tragically, since the passage of the law in 2008, three children have died in faulty playpens.

The mother of the toddler who inspired the law said at the announcement, “What was unacceptable to me was that children were being injured and killed in accidents that were 100 percent preventable. I couldn’t believe that there were no standards in place.”

Since the law passed in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has added regulations for six kinds of infant products. In addition, it has prohibited the sale of traditional cribs, which contain a side that drops down, altogether.

While advocates are pleased with the new regulations, they have suggested that further rules are necessary to ensure consumer products are safe, such as banning playpen accessories that are not permanently attached to the pen.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Chicago infant’s death 14 years ago prompts stricter federal rules,” Ian Duncan, June 28, 2012.