With Labor Day weekend just behind us, students at all education levels are starting classes this week. According to a summer study conducted by the National Retail Federation, Americans were expected to spend nearly $75 billion on back-to-school needs and wants this year. This includes everything from clothing and traditional school supplies like pens and pencils to electronics and dorm room needs for college students. Almost anything can end up on the back-to-school list, which is why buyers should educate themselves on the latest product safety news. A number of product safety recalls were announced this summer which may affect all types of back-to-school purchases.

Back-to-school clothing makes up a large percentage of each year’s buys. On August 7, 2014, LL Bean recalled just over 5,000 girls’ sweaters sold in sizes 4-7, which came in both Fisherman’s and open stitch styles. The sweaters are being recalled because the spare button attached to the label can detach, creating a choking hazard. Consumers who purchased the sweaters should immediately remove the spare button from the inside seam before use.

Many children are sent off to school every day with a homemade lunch and a personal water bottle. On August 19, 2014, Brita, manufacturer of the well-known water filtration system, recalled just under a quarter million children’s hard plastic water bottles. The recalled items have popular children’s cartoon characters on them, hold fifteen ounces of liquid, and have hard plastic screw-on tops. The bottles are being recalled because the screw-on lids are susceptible to breaking and cracking, creating sharp pieces that pose a laceration hazard to children. Despite multiple reports of broken lids, no injuries have been reported to date.

Bean bag chairs are often found in child bedrooms and dorm rooms. As a result of two separate incidents resulting in the death of a three-year-old girl from Kentucky and the death of a thirteen year-old boy from Texas, on August 22 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Ace Bayou Corporation of Louisiana recalled nearly 2.2 million bean bag chairs of different shapes, sizes and colors sold by various retailers and several online giants such as Walmart.com and Amazon.com. The bean bag chairs were manufactured with zippers that open, allowing children to climb inside and suffocate or choke on the polystyrene beads that fill the chairs. To prevent tragedies like these, the voluntary safety standard pertaining to bean bag chairs requires that non-refillable chairs have permanently disabled zippers. As part of the recall efforts, Ace Bayou Corporation will provide kits to permanently disable the zippers to consumers who purchased the affected product.

Space heaters are a common find in dorm rooms during the fall and winter months. On August 14, 2014, a recall was announced for approximately 79,000 Vornado VH110 Whole Room Vortex Space Heaters, sold by multiple large retailers including Bed Bath and Beyond, Target and Home Depot. The space heater can overheat and melt or catch fire posing a significant hazard to consumers. The space heaters are manufactured in China and imported by Vornado Air, LLC, located in Kansas. There have been twenty-nine reports of the units overheating, seven of which resulted in fires. One person reported minor injuries due to smoke inhalation following a fire. It is important that consumers who purchased this product stop using it immediately.

Finally, many children ride bicycles to and from school each day. On July 31, 2014, Dynacraft BSC, Inc. and the CPSC recalled just over 3,000 Avigo 20-inch Turn-N-Burn Youth bicycles, sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us. The front wheel may detach, which can cause the rider to fall from the bicycle and potentially sustain serious injuries. To date, Dynacraft has received one report of injuries when a boy fell from the bicycle after the wheel detached.

As you can see, almost any product on your back-to-school list can also end up on a product recall list. Consumers should take the time to educate themselves on the hazards posed by everyday products, and can do so through the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

When you or someone you love is injured by a defective product, a personal injury lawyer should be consulted regarding the potential liability of the manufacturer and retailer. SUGARMAN has a team of dedicated personal injury attorneys who represent those who have been injured. If you have been hurt in an accident and wish to speak to one of our attorneys regarding liability, please fill out a Contact Form, call us at (617) 542-1000 or e-mail info@sugarman.com.