• Tue, Oct 25 2011

Please Don’t Make A Federal Case Out Of Your Child’s Injury

Halo sleep sackOne of the best pieces of advice I got after giving birth to my first was to swaddle her. My husband and I became quite adept at wrapping our growing little girl in sleeping blankets from which she could not escape. After a few hours at least. Once she grew out of the swaddling cloths, we moved her to a Miracle Blanket. When she outgrew that, we transitioned her to a sleep sack. And she slept in a sleep sack for a good year. It kept her cozy warm with no danger of getting uncovered at night. Even when she learned to walk, she’d waddle around her crib with her sleep sack on. It was very cute.

Unfortunately, two families — out of the millions of happy parents who use sleep sacks — have had bad experiences. Bad experiences leading to permanent dental damage, in fact. Their babies somehow caught their teeth in the hole in the zipper (a hole put in the zipper, by the way, to avoid any air passage problems should the zipper tab become dislodged in the baby’s throat). The babies were, needless to say, very sad when they yanked on their sleep sack and their tooth was attached to the hole in the zipper.

One of the families has filed a lawsuit. This after they tried to get the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the product!

It is terribly sad that these kids had bad experiences with their sleep sacks, but I’m troubled with this type of approach to handling problems in life. I know in America we like to sue anybody and everybody for all possible unfortunate events. My husband and I knew that we could sue our way to financial freedom when our children seriously injured themselves at the store of a large international retailer. Instead, we wrote a letter to the company to alert them to the issue. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t tempting. And if we’d sued, I’m sure that the retailer would have removed the play area where the injury happened (or otherwise rendered it completely boring) to avoid liability in the future.

Still, we need some perspective here.

The blankets are a safer alternative to blankets, which can lead to suffocation. Blankets have also, of course, been linked to SIDS. A successful action against sleep sacks could lead to more infant deaths.

For its part, the HALO sleep sack company that is targeted by this suit responds:

When we learned of these events, we thoroughly analyzed each one and found no pattern of defect. Even so, while the risk for this type of incident occurring was extremely low, we concluded that it was appropriate to re-design the zipper to eliminate the hole. As of 2010, all new HALO products have been produced with this new zipper design, and no similar incident has occurred since.

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  • concerned parent

    There are several false statements made in the post by Mollie Hemingway.

    1. There have been more than two children injured with teeth in a zipper or the zipper coming apart in a child’s mouth.

    2. If the hole was made to allow children to breath if they swallowed the zipper, the new zipper does not have a hole so now the child can suffocate?
    So the original zipper was faulty!

    3. The CPSC never received the report from the family and therefore, re opened the case and has not ruled on their investigation.

    4. Halo states as of 2010, all zippers were changed. Was that the beginning of 2010 or the end of 2010 ? Did Halo recall any of the zippers with a hole from any of the retailers they sell to and did they continue to ship the zippers with a hole until the new ones could be delivered. Which could take six months or longer.

    Therefore, making sure they could get out of all of their inventory from their own warehouse and the retailer would sell out from what they had in the store and on order. One of the children who lost a tooth was injured in October of 2010.The dollar was more important than the child’s welfare.

    Faulty zippers are still in the market place on retailers shelves. The law suit was the last resort.

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