Thanks to momsquawk.com for this link to a Parents magazine segment on Today, listing nine common products that “are supposed to protect children but can actually put them at risk.” You know those plastic outlet covers? Kids can choke on them. You know those mirrors that let you see your baby while you’re driving? In an accident, those can become deadly projectiles.
I think some of this is a little silly. It reminds me of that “Consumer Probe” sketch on Saturday Night Live many moons ago– the one with Dan Ackroyd as a deadly toy manufacturer, and Candice Bergen as a consumer reporter:
Consumer Reporter: We’d like to show you another one of Mr. Mainway’s products. It retails for $1.98, and it’s called Bag O’ Glass. Mr. Mainway, this is simply a bag of jagged, dangerous, glass bits.
Irwin Mainway: Yeah, right, it’s you know, it’s glass, it’s broken glass, you know? It sells very well, as a matter of fact, you know? It’s just broken glass, you know?
Consumer Reporter: I don’t understand. I mean, children could seriously cut themselves on any one of these pieces!
Irwin Mainway: Yeah, well, look – you know, the average kid, he picks up, you know, broken glass anywhere, you know? The beach, the street, garbage cans, parking lots, all over the place in any big city. We’re just packaging what the kids want! I mean, it’s a creative toy, you know? If you hold this up, you know, you see colors, every color of the rainbow! I mean, it teaches him about light refraction, you know? Prisms, and that stuff! You know what I mean?
Candice Bergen’s character goes on to point out that while his toys are clearly hazardous, other toys are clearly safe:
Consumer Reporter: Well, I just don’t understand why you can’t make harmless toys like these alphabet blocks.
Irwin Mainway: C’mon, this is harmless? Alright, okay, you call this harmless? I mean… [ He plays with block and fakes injury ] Aagghh!! I got a splinter in here, look at that! This is wood! This is unsanded wood, it’s rough!
Consumer Reporter: Alright, that’s enough of this ridiculous display. [ holds toy phone ] Here is another creative toy, safe enough for a baby!
Irwin Mainway: [ grabs phone ] You say it’s safe, I mean, look at this cord…the kid is on the phone – “Hello? Hello?” – then.. [ twists cord around his neck, screams, and falls backward in chair ] You know what I mean? It’s an example! You see my point, a dangerous toy like that?
In other words, everything can be dangerous. If you’re silly enough to buy a wipe warmer, you’re also probably silly enough to leave it plugged in 24/7 and start a fire, so maybe you should just skip the wipe warmer in the first place. Don’t buy the sleep positioner! The wipe warmer! The plastic outlet covers! You want to keep your kids safe? Stop spending money on stupid stuff! Now THAT’S something we parents should be hearing from consumer reporters. Don’t hold your breath, though.
(Thanks to snltranscripts.jt.org for the transcript of the above sketch, from 1976. Now that’s dedication.)