On Friday, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Summer Infant announced a voluntary recall affecting around 1.7million Summer Infant video baby monitors with cords in the USA. The video monitors were sold from January 2003 to February 2011, and come in over 40 different models.
The recall followed reports of two babies being strangled by the electrical monitor cords in America. We spoke to Denis Horton, who heads up Summer Infant in the UK, about the deaths and Denis explained there’s been no fatalities outside of America, as far as Summer Infant is aware, but that the company wants to do everything it can to warn parents of the potential risks.
All this sounds pretty scary, but there’s more to the story, and it doesn’t involve you throwing away your monitor…
Recall doesn’t mean recall
Firstly, the term “recall” in America means something different to what you might assume. In the USA, “recall” doesn’t have to mean hauling stuff off store shelves, but just any kind of corrective action. In the case of the Summer Infant baby monitors, the company is providing warning labels to put on the cords (like you see on your hairdryer) and has created the Safe Sleep Installation Guide. This can be downloaded or requested over the phone by calling 0208 429 4429. This guide shows you how to properly wall mount the camera in your nursery using the screws and wall clips that came with your monitor (if you tossed those away, Summer Infant will happily send you another set). It’s worth noting, Summer Infant’s products already come with warnings in the accompanying info leaflets and have installation instructions provided.
Safe baby monitor installation is crucial
The next thing to keep in mind is that the two deaths involved monitors that weren’t installed in a safe way – in one case, the monitor camera was placed on the cot rail and in the other, the monitor camera was placed on a changing table attached to the cot. In the CPSC recall notice, you’re urged to immediately check the location of your video monitor, including any wall-mounted cameras, and all electric cords to make sure the cords are out of arm’s reach of your child.
Any cord can be unsafe
You also need to be aware that any cord can pose a strangulation risk, and it’s not an issue unique to Summer Infant. America’s CPSC has seen seven reports of deaths relating to baby monitor cords since 2004. In its general safety notice on baby monitor cords, the CPSC advises you:
- Immediately check the location of corded monitors, including those mounted on the wall, to make sure cords are out of arm’s reach of your child.
- Ensure cords are placed more than three feet away from any part of your baby’s crib, bassinet, or places he or she sleeps (or plays).
- Periodically check the location of the monitor, because as your baby grows, what was once out of arm’s reach will change.
- Inspect your home to ensure your child can’t get to other products with cords – think decorations with ribbons or streamers, coats with drawstrings
- Don’t put beds, cribs or other furniture near window blind cords.
For more CPSC advice (including what to do about movement monitor cords), you can download the baby monitor cord safety notice as a pdf
Summer Infant’s statement
“In a joint venture with the US CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), Summer Infant has announced a voluntary program to provide new on-product labels and instructions for its baby video monitors with electric cords. Since 2004, the CPSC has received seven reports of strangulations in the US linked with baby monitor cords. Despite a number of prominent warnings in our instruction leaflets advising parents to ensure the cord is kept out of baby’s reach, two of the strangulations involved Summer Infant video monitor cameras. One report cited a monitor camera being placed on the cot rail and the other report noted the camera was placed on a changing table attached to the cot. Since no deaths are acceptable to us as a company, we have voluntarily undertaken this initiative to provide consumers with a Safe Installation Guide and Cord Warning Labels. All new products will carry these additional warnings as well. Additionally, Summer Infant is the only company that provides wall mounting clips for safely securing loose cords in all its monitor packs. We are also in the process of reviewing the instructions supplied with our monitors to ensure that the strangulation hazard is highlighted to consumers.
“We work hard to make sure all babies are safe. It is important to note that this is NOT a product recall, rather, it is an educational campaign to not only warn consumers of the potential strangulation risk associated with placing a cord too close to a cot, but also provide consumers with information on how to safely install their monitor in the nursery.
“The Safe Installation Guide may be downloaded from our website www.summerinfant.co.uk. Alternatively, warning labels and guides may be obtained by phoning our Customer Service Department on 0208 429 4429.”