Arthur Elk: Being aware of recalls helps protect you and your family

By Arthur Elk

Too often, companies sell consumers products that are dangerous to their health. Whether it is tainted food or a car with faulty brakes or a toy with small parts that a young child might swallow, these products pose serious risks to innocent victims. Luckily, there are several government agencies and watchdog groups such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission whose job it is to watch for the products and get them off the market as quickly as possible.

Thousands of products are recalled every year. In just the third quarter of 2012, the FDA documented an average of four food-related recalls a day, affecting nearly 8.5 million units of food and beverage products.

In just the first two weeks of this month, there have already been dozens of products recalled. Below is a list of just a few of them that may be of particular interest.

1)      Dream On Me recalled about 900 bed rails. The bed rail can separate from the mattress allowing a child’s body to become trapped if it slips between the rail and the mattress. This poses suffocation and strangulation hazards to children. No injuries have been reported. The bed rails were sold at small independent stores and online at amazon.com and wayfair.com from September 2011 through May 2012 for between $15 and $30.

2)      Dream On Me also recalled bout 50,000 bath seats. The bath seats fail to meet federal safety standards, including the requirements for stability. Specifically, the bath seats can tip over, posing a risk of drowning to babies. CPSC and Dream On Me have received five reports involving these bath seats, including a report of a near drowning involving a 12-month-old baby girl. The baby did not require medical treatment. The recall includes all Dream On Me bath seats. Some of the seats have a Dream On Me label under or on the rear of the bath seats. The bath seats were sold at small retail stores and online retailers including Amazon.com and Wayfair.com from July 2012 through September 2012 for between $25 and $40.

3)      Baby Jogger has issued a recall for about 8,400 City Versa baby strollers. The stroller frame can fail to lock in place and collapse while in use, posing a fall hazard to children in the stroller. Baby Jogger has received six reports of incidents with the stroller’s frame failing to lock, although no injuries have been reported. This recall involves all Baby Jogger City Versa model strollers manufactured between May 15 and Aug. 20, 2012. The date of manufacture is printed on the stroller’s black plastic side hinge below “Baby Jogger” and “City Versa.” “City Versa” is also printed on the stroller’s fabric in the child’s leg area. The strollers have charcoal-colored metal frames with black, silver, red or green fabric stroller seats and canopies. The strollers were sold at buybuy Baby and other juvenile product stores nationwide and online at buybuybaby.com, albeebaby.com, diapers.com and other online retailers from July 2012 through October 2012 for about $450.

4)      Bunnell Incorporated recalled Life Pulse High-Frequency Ventilator Patient Circuits. The product has been found to have heater wire insulation that can melt, causing sparking and smoke close to the humidifier cartridge.  There have been 12 reported failures out of 5,743 Patient Circuits distributed. There have been no reports of patient injury or death. However, Bunnell wants clinicians to be aware of the potential that a Patient Circuit failure could result in patient injury or death.

5)      Veggie Patch recalled its Ultimate Meatless Burger and Falafel due to a risk of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The Ultimate Meatless Burger and Falafel, from Veggie Patch, with the specific use-by dates and UPC codes listed below were distributed to a select number of retailers and distributors. The Ultimate Meatless Burger that is recalled had a Use-By date of Jan. 12, 2013 and was available for sale as of Nov. 21, 2012, in the following states; NY, CT, PA, FL, IL, MD, IN, WI, VA, NJ and DE.  Falafel with a Use-By date of Jan. 15, 2013, was available for sale as of Nov. 21, 2012, nationwide. No illnesses have been reported to date.  Veggie Patch discovered this issue as part of its routine testing of its products.

There have been many more recent recalls besides the ones listed above, and you should be aware of all of them. You don’t want to be feeding your family contaminated food or letting your child play with a dangerous toy. There are many ways to keep track of what has been recalled. One good place to follow food recalls is the FDA’s website. Also, the CPSC’s website keeps you up-to-date on consumer product recalls. Both sites allow you to sign up for e-mail notifications anytime a new recall is announced.

At Elk & Elk, we are serious about safety and helping keep you and your family healthy. That’s why we use our social media feeds (http://www.facebook.com/ElkandElkLaw and http://www.twitter.com/elkandelk) to help inform you anytime there are important recalls. Staying informed will help keep your family safe from dangerous products.

Parents warned to keep nasal sprays, eye drops out of children’s reach

By Arthur Elk

If you’re a parent, child safety is a concern and you have probably worried about your children accidentally swallowing something that they shouldn’t and getting sick or dying. More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking. Unfortunately, it can even happen with things you might not think of as toxic. The most recent cause for concern: eye drops and nasal decongestant sprays.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning the public that young children can become seriously ill if they accidentally swallow over-the-counter eye drops and nasal decongestant sprays. The products are sold under various brand names such as Visine, Dristan and Mucinex, as well as in generic and store brands.

The FDA is advising people to keep these products – which contain the active ingredients tetrahydrozoline, oxymetazoline, or naphazoline (known as imidazoline derivatives) – out of the reach of children at all times. Children who swallow even miniscule amounts of these products can have serious adverse effects, the FDA warns.

Between 1985 and 2012, the FDA identified 96 cases in which children ranging from 1 month to 5 years accidentally swallowed products containing these ingredients. Although there were no deaths reported, more than half of the cases (53) reported hospitalization because of symptoms that included nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, rapid heartbeat and coma.

In January, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission proposed a rule to require child-resistant packaging for all products containing at least 0.08 mg of an imidazoline derivative. However, this rule has not been finalized. While child-resistant packaging can’t completely stop accidentally swallowing by children, it is a safety measure that should be in place for any commonly used products that can endanger your children.

If a child accidentally swallows OTC redness-relief eye drops or nasal decongestant spray, call your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) immediately. Experts are available all day, every day at these centers. If necessary, poison center staff will immediately help get emergency medical services to your home. Program this number into your home and cell phones so you will have it when you need it. Post it on the fridge so it is in plain sight. This is a number every parent should have readily available. In the event of an emergency, you don’t want to be delayed trying to find the right number to call to get you the help you need.

The personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk want you and your family to be safe, so please remember to always keep any medications out of the reach of children. And if a medication has a safety cap, make sure it is securely locked every time you close the bottle. Don’t let a product that is designed to help you feel better cause a tragedy in your home.

The 12 Tips of Christmas Safety

The holidays are full of all kinds of fun activities for families, from decorating the Christmas tree, to lighting candles and opening presents. We get so focused on enjoying these events that we may fail to recognize potential dangers posed by some of the items we use as decorations or for wrapping gifts.

One of the greatest risks associated with the holidays is fire. Every year across the country, an average of 300 fires are started by Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of 13 deaths, 27 injuries, and $16.7 million in direct property damage annually. Many of these fires could be avoided if people had followed some simple steps to protect themselves and their families.

As you decorate your home and plan for holiday gatherings, here are 12 things for you to keep in mind:

1. Keep trees away from heat sources. Place your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as fireplaces and radiators and water it regularly to prevent it from drying out. Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption.

2. Tree trimmings are flammable. Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant tree trimmings. And choose tinsel or artificial icicles that are plastic or made of non-leaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if children swallow them.

3. Decorations can be dangerous. Avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children. Small pieces could be swallowed or inhaled.

4. Don’t burn wrapping paper. Wrapping paper should not be burned in a fireplace, because a flash fire may result as wrapping paper can ignite suddenly and burn intensely. So be sure to remove all wrapping paper, bags, ribbons and bows from the fireplace area after gifts are opened.

5. Use appropriate decorations. Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. These are identified by a label from an independent testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL/ITSNA. And if you are decorating outside, be sure to use only lights and decorations that are approved for outdoors. Keep electrical connections off the ground and away from metal rain gutters. Use insulated tape or plastic clips instead of metal nails to hold them in place

6. Damaged lights can be a hazard. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets or repair them before using.

7. Don’t leave the lights on all the time. Turn off all lights on trees and outdoor decorations when you go to bed or leave the house. Lights could short and start a fire.

8. Never connect more than one extension cord together. Instead use one cord that is long enough to reach the outlet without stretching, but not so long that it can get easily tangled.

9. Check your child’s toys. Before your child opens and plays with a new toy, be sure it is age appropriate. You may shop very carefully and keep safety in mind when buying toys for your children. But a well-meaning friend or family member may unintentionally buy your child a toy with parts that are too small for their age.

10. Protect your children from flames. Keep matches, lighters and candles out of the reach of children.

11. Keep watch when cooking. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. When you are cooking for holiday guests, make sure you keep an eye on the range.

12. Some decorations can cause irritation. To avoid skin and eye irritation, wear gloves when decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” To avoid lung irritation, read container labels carefully and follow directions when using artificial snow sprays.

The personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday season. Don’t let any part of your holiday season ruin your joyous celebrations.

Elk & Elk attorneys help hunger center provide 17,000 meals for Thanksgiving

Hunger is a problem 365 days a year, not just during the holidays. That’s why Elk & Elk partners each Thanksgiving with Cleveland sports radio personality Mark “Munch” Bishop to help stock the pantry at the St. Augustine Hunger Center in Tremont.

On Wednesday, November 21, 2012, for the eighth consecutive year, Cleveland attorneys Art and Dave Elk and the rest of the staff of Elk & Elk loaded up a trailer with food and pitched in to help collect donations during the 23rd annual food drive.

“I am so thankful for the support of Dave and Art and everyone at Elk & Elk,” said Sister Corita Ambro, who has been the hunger center director for 42 years. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

This year, besides donating 400 turkeys to the hunger center to be used throughout the year and next Thanksgiving, Elk & Elk also made a matching donation for the first $12,000 in cash donations given to the hunger center.

“It’s a pleasure for us to help out at the hunger center,” said Elk & Elk senior Partner Dave Elk. “This is a very difficult time for them. But the wonderful people here do such a great job. It’s our honor to work with them.”

Throughout the day of the food drive, area residents pulled up in their vehicles and donated turkeys and other food products, doing their part to help keep the center running for the next year. An anonymous donor gave the center 35,000 pounds of meat, which the center will use to make their meals go even further.

“It was more than a success,” said Sister Corita, referring to the food drive. “Before the drive, our shelves were empty. Now, our shelves are filled to overflowing.”

On Thanksgiving Day, the hunger center used the donations to serve more than 17,000 meals at St. Augustine and at 16 other shelters and centers across the Cleveland Area.

T.J. Ward and Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns pitched in to help with the food drive for the second year, giving the food drive a boost with their star power and boosting the morale of the center’s volunteers.

“We’re blessed to be in the situation that we’re in … and God has put us in this situation for a reason and we just have to give back anyway we can,” Ward said.

“My hope is that their generosity, which has been wonderful, will be an example to other people to follow what these men have done,” Sister Corita said.

The Thanksgiving food drive is St. Augustine’s biggest event of the year for the Hunger Center. However, donations and community service are accepted and needed all year long. In addition to providing meals, the hunger center serves many other needs of the poor, including clothing, emergency funding for rent and utilities, furniture and appliances.

“We think about them during the holidays but anytime throughout the entire season that you can help, please do,” Bishop said.

To learn more about how you can help the St. Augustine Hunger Center fulfill its mission to feed Cleveland’s hungry 365 days a year, visit www.staugustine-west14.org or call the parish at 216-781-5530 and ask for Sister Corita.

The parish and Hunger Center are located in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood at 2486 W. 14th St. Cleveland, OH 44113.

Click here to see a video about how you can help all year long.