But some recalls are really just ... stupid.
For example, nearly 2 million Summer Infant video baby monitors are now being recalled because two babies have died in the past year, so now Summer Infant is recalling for better labeling and safety instructions.
Should they really have to, though?
Both babies died because the monitor was put close enough to the crib that the baby was able to pull the cord in and wrap it around their necks.
What this tells me isn't that Summer Infant needs better labels, but that those parents didn't think about the risk of an electrical cord being within baby's reach ... and apparently didn't even use the monitor anyway. You would have heard and seen the baby pulling the cord and wrapping it around their neck if you'd actually been USING the monitor placed unnecessarily close, right?
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic. After all, tens of thousands of infants get hurt because parents totally ignore written safety warnings and common sense by trying to wedge or "snap" an infant car seat on top of a shopping cart, or put it on a table, chair, or bed, and are shocked when it rolls over or falls off. There was also the Graco stroller recall where babies that weren't strapped in would slide down and get their heads stuck and not breathe (meaning no one was watching them in the stroller in the first place).
At what point do we draw the line between a company's responsibility and just plain stupid choices by consumers?
I get that a lot of recalls are PR moves more than anything -- they really look better if they say, "We'll take back the product and fix or relabel it" rather than "Did you even think before you set a top-heavy child in a lightweight Bumbo seat on top of your kitchen counter over hard tile?"
Everyone makes mistakes, of course. But companies shouldn't be held responsible or a PRODUCT blamed when someone has a brain fart. If I didn't strap my kid in their car seat and they flew out in a crash, I'm not going to blame Britax for not installing a warning beep that tells me that there's a child's weight in the seat but the harness isn't fastened. That's my responsibility, just like fastening my own seat belt (oh wait, some cars DO have warning beeps for that ... sigh).
Sometimes companies DO need to be forced to change things, though. The McDonald's coffee case? She was actually justified. McDonald's had been in trouble for serving coffee at 180-190 degrees -- which will burn your skin at full thickness (all the way through the layers) in 2-7 seconds. NOT okay. Dorel was told in 2001 that their straps on certain seats were in violation of requirements since they deteriorated in sunlight way too quickly, and yet it took them 10 years and being FORCED to do a recall on seats that at that point were expired to finally do anything about it, still reluctantly.
So what you're left with as a consumer and a mom is this -- read all the details of your products and USE THEM RIGHT. If something breaks and risks your child and has nothing to do with a mistake or lapse in judgment of your own, go after the company. If it's your fault your kid got hurt, do NOT blame the company. And know that you are your child's best defense -- just because something is sold or hasn't been recalled does NOT mean it's safe. Buy higher quality products to begin with from trustworthy companies. Check screws on cribs regularly, feel new products over for sharp parts, check for choking hazards on clothing and new toys ... if you leave it up to manufacturers to tell your that your baby isn't safe, whether by design flaw or by common sense actions, then your baby WILL get hurt.
You HAVE to use common sense and have to realize that it's up to YOU to look for dangers, written or unwritten.
We don't need more "Do not close child in Rubbermaid bin because they will suffocate" labels. We need parents who wouldn't do stupid things like that in the first place.
Do you think people blame companies for their own stupid choices?
Image via cpsc.gov