Garage sales: Deal or danger?

A toaster for $2! A set of encyclopedias for $10! Like many of you, I am a sucker for a good bargain. The bargains we find at local garage sales and resale shops can be too good to believe . . . and sometimes they are. Without knowing it, many people purchase or sell dangerous and recalled items at their resale shops or garage sales.

A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission showed nearly 70 percent of all resale shops visited had at least one dangerous or recalled product for sale. The next time you go bargain hunting, be sure to watch for recalled items or items that do not meet current safety standards. I always remind my friends to be especially aware of these potential dangers:

Cribs. Older cribs can entrap, strangle or even suffocate children. Cribs with more than 2 3/8” between crib slats or cut-outs on the headboard or footboard may suffocate or strangle a child. Cribs with missing or broken parts or corner posts higher than 1/16” also present a risk of death.

Car seats. Car seats can be dangerous when the seat crash history is unknown. It also can be difficult to determine if all parts are present and in good working condition. It is recommended that seats not be used any longer than six years from the date of manufacture.

Clothing. Clothing with drawstrings around the neck on children’s jackets and sweatshirts can catch and strangle children.  Drawstrings can be pulled out or cut on children’s jackets and sweatshirts.

Toys. Toys need to be inspected for loose or missing pieces that could be dangerous, especially for a young child. When I host my own garage sales or head out for a little bargain hunting, I visit This Web site provides easy access to recall and safety information designed to help you become an educated consumer. You also may contact Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin at (414) 390-2178 for more detailed information.

Bridget Clementi~ Bridget Clementi, director, Community Health, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Read more blog posts by Bridget Clementi.


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