keep ANYTHING with a hinge away from children

Maybe it’s not Maclaren that’s the problem. Or Graco. According to an email I got yesterday, hinges are incredibly dangerous to kids. Period.

The trolls out there will snort at this as not news, but I think you will agree, after hearing this story, that it is one that needs to be told.

Michelle Corbett’s six-year-old son was at school. He sat down on a folding chair (certainly a commonplace object at any school), and perhaps because the chair was not fully open (no one can say), the chair cut off his fingertip. “It was a nightmare, as you can imagine,” Michelle told me. 

The trolls out there have also snorted at the notion that anyone’s fingertip was actually amputated by a hinge. We’re a bunch of mothers getting hysterical about a little cut or something. Just to set the record straight: Michelle’s son’s finger was cut off all the way below the fingernail, to the first knuckle. 

This particular chair was made by Lifetime Products of Clearfield, UT. Michelle filed a report with the Consumer Products Safety Commission. An agent came to her house and interviewed her, but gave her no assurance that they would pursue the case. Neither would they confirm whether they have received other reports of such serious injuries from folding chairs– either ones made by Lifetime Products, or in general. Michelle has lobbied Lifetime Products to include safety information on their website. They have so far ignored her requests. Seems like it’s easy enough to make hinge covers for folding chairs- just as Maclaren did for their strollers- but what company is going to spend that money without a real groundswell of press?

It seems that the problem cannot rest only with these individual companies. If the CPSC sits on this information for as long as they apparently do, it’s up to parents to spread the word. DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD NEAR ANYTHING WITH A HINGE. When you are opening or closing their stroller, do whatever you have to do to ensure they are several feet away, and stay there. If they sit in a folding chair, tell them to cross their arms in front of them when they sit down, and when they stand up, and to let a grownup do the folding and unfolding. This is on its face such obvious information, but I didn’t know until yesterday that ANY of these types of hinges could injure kids so gravely. They should send us all home from the maternity ward with this added to our list of instructions: keep anything with a hinge well away from your children. Even if it’s a made-for-kids product. Even if it’s made for them to sit in, or on. We all have to keep learning this sad lesson over and over again: just because it’s made for kids doesn’t mean it’s safe.

If you or someone you know has had a similar injury from a folding chair, Michelle Corbett would really like to know, since she is planning to “do right by her son” and make sure the word gets out. Her email is mjcorbett@earthlink.net. Thank you, Michelle, for this much-needed information.

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