WASHINGTON – Used cribs will be rounded up and destroyed Saturday by a coalition of private and government organizations intent on preventing infant deaths.
Cribs are being collected at seven sites in Montgomery County, Md., and Annandale, Va., and will be crushed Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School. The Salvation Army and the Girl Scouts will help.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which organized the event with the nonprofit Danny Foundation, reports that more than 50 U.S. infants are killed by their cribs each year. Many are strangled or suffocated when they become trapped in the crib sides or when clothing becomes entangled on crib corner posts.
Some children are virtually hanged when their bodies slip through the slats of the crib and their heads get stuck, said Nychelle White, a commission spokeswoman.
Newer cribs are generally safe, said commission chairwoman Ann Brown. Most accidents occur in older cribs that have been handed down or purchased at yard sales, she said.
“Now we need parents, grandparents and well-meaning friends to help us find and destroy the unsafe used cribs they may be saving in their attics and basements for sentimental reasons or future use,” said Brown, who will be one of the speakers at Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School Saturday.
Convincing people to give away their old cribs is not easy, said Jack Walsh, executive director of the Danny Foundation. “Used cribs are not like used cars. They acquire meaning as time goes on. But they’re also wearing out.”
The Danny Foundation was created in 1986 by the parents of 2-year-old Danny Line Weaver, who tried to climb out of his crib and was strangled when his shirt got caught on a decorative knob. The foundation now works to improve crib safety and to educate parents about potential problems, Walsh said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has established guidelines to help parents determine whether their cribs are safe. Cribs should have:
* no missing, loose or improperly installed screws, brackets, or other loose hardware on the crib or the mattress support.
* closely placed slats, so a baby’s body cannot fit through them. If a soda can fits easily through the slats, the spaces between them are too wide.
* a firm, snug-fitting mattress so a baby cannot get trapped between it and the side of the crib.
* no cutout areas on the headboard or footboard that could trap a baby’s head.
* a mattress support that does not easily pull apart from the corner posts, so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and crib.
* no cracked or peeling paint that could poison a baby.
* no splinters or rough edges.
Crib drop-off places in Maryland include the Montgomery County Department of Police in Bethesda; the Rockville City Police Impound Lot; the Montgomery County Police Department in Germantown; Town Hall in Kensington; the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase; and the Lowe’s Home Store in Gaithersburg.
In Virginia, cribs can be dropped off at the Salvation Army in Annandale.
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