A stroller helps you to keep your infant/toddler safe and comfortable – but only when the stroller is structurally sound and used correctly – which often is not the case, says the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Here is what you should know:
Recalls of basic child-related items occur frequently. There are also frequent recalls of carrying slings, carriages, cribs, highchairs and changing tables. Among these products, strollers are the leading cause of injuries, accounting for about 14,000 US emergency rooms visits each year.
Keep up with recalls. Recently (May 2013) CPSC recalled more than 200,000 strollers due a strangulation hazard. Infants not properly strapped in can slide down between the hand tray and the bottom of the seat. While the body fits through this space, the head becomes entrapped, compromising the infant’s ability to breathe. Other recent recalls were based on (1) children seriously injuring fingers in the mechanisms of fold-up strollers and (2) falling out of strollers when handlebars became disengaged.
Are you reachable for recall announcements? Most major baby products include cards to register the product with the manufacturer. Did you fill one out when you purchased the item? Has your address changed? Do you carefully read your postal mail and emails? Check with the manufacturer to see if you are on their recall list.
Check recall registries on the web. The most complete list is on the CPSC website. For strollers click on: http://cs.cpsc.gov/ConceptDemo/SearchCPSC.aspx?query=stroller+recall+list. If you need help, call CPSC at 800-638-2772. Know the name of the manufacturer and the serial number of the item you are checking. This information can be found somewhere on the product.
Seventy-five percent of stroller-related injuries result from children falling out of them. In most cases the child is not or is improperly strapped in. Regardless of children’s ages, strap them in immediately and completely, using all straps. Other mishaps include “tip-overs,” “collapses,” and “runaways” (see below).
Hand-me-down strollers are rarely bargains. (And this goes for the other products mentioned above.) Injuries have occurred because fabric covering hardware is torn, exposing bolts and screws, for example. In most cases, the newer the model, the safer it is. Newer models benefit from improved technology, some of it based on recalls, more stringent government regulations, feedback from users, and no wear and tear from usage.
Umbrella strollers cause the majority of stroller-related injuries. They are lightweight (usually about 5 pounds), simple to set up and maneuverable, but these features make them prone to tipping over. Follow instructions and guidelines about hanging objects on the handlebars or placing objects in storage areas.
Make sure that your umbrella stroller is “clicked in.” If not, the stroller may collapse while you are pushing it. Also, check that the brake is on whenever you take your hands off the stroller. Strollers’ lightness enables them to roll away on slopes so slight that you can be unaware that there is a slope.
Most umbrella strollers are not designed for young infants. Popular models do not provide head support that infants require. Once infants can hold their heads up while sitting with support (usually by five to six months), strollers are safe. For younger infants, you need a model that permits the infant to lie flat.
Infants in strollers do not belong on stairs/escalators. Use elevators when available, have someone carry the stroller or infant while you carry the other, or if you are by yourself, carry the infant and stroller separately (not an easy task). Stroller/escalator accidents are especially common at airports. You may be rammed by people pushing luggage or your stroller may not be positioned correctly for escalator stairs to rise or fall. At airports, elevators are virtually always available but often you have to look for them.