Commissioner's Blog: Second hand cots may be unsafe
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With Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Cots are supposed to be a place for babies to rest and sleep safely but Kidsafe WA reports that 51 children attended Princess Margaret Hospital in 2014/2015 with cot-related injuries.
If you buy or receive a second-hand cot, it may not meet current Australian safety standards, increasing the risk of injury to any baby placed in that cot. For example there is a minimum and maximum gap allowed between cot bars to ensure infants do not trap their head or limbs.
A community education campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of second hat cots is currently underway in Western Australia. Parents and carers are being urged to check and measure older cots and to destroy any that do not meet the latest safety requirements.
Here are the main measurements to check:
- Spacing between bars or panels should be no greater than 95 millimetres (mm).
- New cots cannot have spaces between 30 and 50mm. This is to prevent a child’s arms or legs becoming trapped.
- Ensure the mattress is firm and fits tightly – gaps should be no more than 20mm.
- The distance between the base of the mattress to the top of the cot should be 600mm, and 250mm when the drop side is down. If the base is adjustable, the distance is 400mm when the base is at its highest position.
- Fittings, bolts, knobs or corner posts should not stick out more than 8mm because they could catch onto a child’s clothing, causing distress or strangulation.
Additionally with second-hand cots you need to check the overall stability, ensure rails and base slats are firmly attached and intact, with no sharp edges. Also check that nuts and bolts are tight and all mechanisms are in good working order.
The current awareness campaign aims to prevent the sale and exchange of dangerous cots that can injure or even kill a baby. Messages about cot safety regulations are being directed to parents / carer groups, online classified websites, charity and second-hand furniture stores as well as the wider community because friends and relatives of new parents often give them a used cot. To get the warning across, there’s a video, smartphone app and poster (all can be viewed or downloaded from www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp/secondhandcots).
It’s illegal for retail stores or an online business to sell any product that fails to comply with mandatory safety standards. However, there have been several recent product safety recalls after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found multiple cot suppliers were selling cots that do not conform to mandatory standards.
Keeping babies safe is everyone’s responsibility, so cots that don’t comply should never be passed on or sold. Ideally they should be destroyed.
Vintage items might look good in a nursery but remember antique cots do not meet current safety standards and shouldn’t be sold as usable items or used to put a baby in because they could be lead to a family tragedy.
Consumers can report the sale of unsafe cots to Consumer Protection by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 1300 30 40 54.
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