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Death of 2 Children Renews Storage Chest Concerns

Officials warn of dangers associated with storage, cedar, hope and toy chests

It seems you can’t go more than a few days without hearing about the recall of a car, toy, or other product, and it may be a bit overwhelming. However, here at Elk & Elk, we post news of numerous recalls in our blog and through social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter to help keep you safe and warn the public about dangerous products – and for good reason.

Lane chest dangers

Lane Cedar Chest – photo courtesy of CPSC

The deaths of two young children have reignited decades-old concerns about product that was first recalled nearly 30 years ago. The Boston Globe reports that 8-year-old Lexi Munroe died due to suffocation along with her brother, Sean, 7, in January 2014 – their small bodies found inside a common storage chest.

Following the deaths of these siblings in Massachusetts, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is renewing its warning to consumers about the dangers associated with storage, cedar, hope and toy chests. Lids on millions of storage chests and trunks can automatically latch shut, locking children inside and suffocating them. In addition, the lid supports on older toy chests can fail to prevent the lid from closing suddenly, entrapping or strangling children by the head or neck.

Lane Cedar Chest Recall

In 1996, Lane Furniture issued the first recall of 12 million of its popular “Lane” and “Virginia Maid”-brand cedar storage chests, made between 1912 and 1987. Since the chests latch automatically when the lid is closed, young children playing in the chest can become trapped inside and suffocate. Between 1977 and 1994, six children died inside Lane cedar chests. The recall was re-announced four years later, with the company calling for a renewed search for the affected cedar chests to replace the locking mechanism.

Lane and Virginia Made Labels

“Virginia Maid” and “Lane” Brand Name Logos

Now, once again, Lane Furniture is asking the public to search their homes for these chests and is offering a free, easy to install, latch replacement kit.

Although dozens of companies have taken action to correct more than 14 million toy and storage chests that posed a risk to children, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received reports of 34 deaths since 1996 involving children.

If you have a storage chest in your home, follow these important steps to protect your family

  • Consumers should remove the latch from the recalled Lane and Virginia Maid brand cedar chest made between 1912 and 1987 and contact Lane for free replacement hardware.
  • For all other chests that have not been recalled but have an automatic latch/lock, disable or remove the lock and check with the chest manufacturer to see if the manufacturer is offering replacement hardware.
  • If the lid support does not keep the lid open in every position, you should remove the lid’s support or replace it with a spring-loaded lid support that will keep the lid open in any position. Remove or replace an unsafe adjustable lid support on these toy chests.
  • All toy chests should have ventilation holes that are not blocked by the floor or against the wall.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a press release that it is working with the National Association of Resale Thrift Shops (NARTS), Goodwill Industries, and the Salvation Army to take steps to ensure that resale store managers and staff do not accept or sell chests that have been recalled or pose a danger to children. Do not purchase or sell any recalled chest that has not been repaired.

To obtain a replacement latch, contact Lane Furniture at (800) 327-6944, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, or access their web site at http://www.lanefurniture.com


Source: “Two Franklin children die after being trapped inside hope chest while playing” by Peter Schworm and John R. Ellement/Globe Staff, The Boston Globe, January 13, 2014.