Storage and toy chest entrapments and suffocations continue as a pervasive child safety issue. Despite all the recalls, continued warnings and new standards, some manufacturers still make dangerous toy chests and other types of storage chests that end up hurting our kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has identified several storage bins and certain chests with hazardous lids that can fall and trap, injure and even kill children. We know because we hear from distressed and grieving parents about defects in toy storage trunks, including hope and cedar chests, still happening. And they happen way too often. These storage products either lack a lid-support device which keeps the lid open to avoid impact injury or has an automatic latch which poses a risk of entrapment and suffocation.
Between 1912 – 1987, 12 million “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests were sold and even though there was a massive recall in 1996 after 14 children died, the CPSC believes millions of these heirloom bins are still in circulation. The durability of these trousseau or hope chests makes it likely that they have been passed down through families and are sitting in many basements or attics. These vintage collector’s items are also being purchased secondhand by people who are unaware of the risks they pose to a little one at home.
If your son or daughter has been injured or killed by a toy chest or a recalled product, you may have legal rights. Child-injury and suffocation lawyer Jeffrey Killino is dedicated to helping children and families obtain the compensation they deserve. Jeffrey Killino his law firm and his team are experienced with cases involving defective products and injuries to children.
Reasons for Toy Storage Bins or Storage Chest Recalls
The CPSC received numerous reports of suffocation deaths involving children who crawled inside latch type storage items. Most of the victims were four to seven years old. In all the cases, the door or lid could not be easily pushed open from the inside and the child was trapped and suffocated. Kids love to play a game of “hide and seek”, and all too often, we hear tragic reports of children climbing into a refrigerator or other air-tight box which could only be opened from the outside. And you’d think manufacturers of toy storage bins would know this. Recalls—and product liability lawsuits— stem from potential or actual injuries or tragic events. Toy chests have been recalled for a number of reasons, from the lid coming down quickly on a child’s neck causing strangulation to lead paint causing poisoning issues to automatic latches that can trap and potentially suffocate your child.
The CPSC reported at least 34 deaths between 1996 and 2014 to children under 18, all involving toy chests. Since 2005, more than 21,500 toy chests have been recalled due to hazards including strangulation, entrapment, injury, and lead poisoning. And the agency continually warns about the dangers associated with storage, cedar, hope and toy chests.
It is now mandatory under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that toy chests meet certain standards. But some don’t, and manufacturers still manage to get these toy trunks and other storage products into retail stores. Both the manufacturers and retailers may be held accountable for product defects.
Recalls or corrective actions for toy chests are often being issued by the CPSC. Here are the some of the most common reasons:
- When the lid is closed, the chest latches automatically
- Lid supports that fail, causing the lid to collapse suddenly on a child’s head, neck, hands, or fingers
- Heavy lids that don’t remain open on its own poses a strangulation hazard
- Chests that lack a lid support device and do not have adequate ventilation
- Lead poisoning hazard
Amazingly, toy chests and toy storage trunks are still on the market with defective latches. On May 27, 2020, the CPSC warned consumers to remove the latch or lock on all “Cavalier” brand cedar chests immediately. These antique chests have been around since the early 1900’s but can be found in antique stores or resold by consumers through online marketplaces. Between 2004 and 2019 three children suffocated to death after becoming locked inside these airtight chests.
Because children continue to be injured in these old wooden chests, in 2014 the CPSC expanded its warning to include any type of chest or trunk that may lock automatically or that has lid supports that can’t be locked into place. In 2000, Lane renewed its search for more of their chests and continued its warning, after three more children were injured by these cedar bins. Lane reports on its website there are still an estimated 6 million chests that need a safe replacement lock.
The CPSC has also reported incidents of permanent brain damage when lids of containers used for toy storage fell on children’s heads or necks. Besides the deaths involving toy boxes or chests, children have died in other containers used for storage, such as trunks, footlockers, decorator cubes, picnic coolers, and blanket or ice chests. In 2019 Igloo recalled its Marine Coolers over an entrapment hazard, because the stainless steel latch can automatically lock when the lid is closed, posing a risk of suffocation inside the airtight container.
Some of the recalled storage products include:
6/27/19 2,500 BRP Sea-Doo Marine Cooler recalled because the cooler latch can automatically lock when lid is closed
3/8/19 Igloo recalled Marine Elite coolers with stainless steel lock latches due to entrapment risk
2/27/14 Rowe Furniture recalled 220 Dalton-style ottomans because children could become entrapped inside the storage compartment of the ottoman
5/20/10 350,000 woven storage trunks recalled because the trunks’ lids can drop suddenly when released – sold at Target
5/7/08 Lowes recalled 84,000 children’s storage bins for excessive levels of lead
1/25/07 Home Decorators Collection recalled 500 storage trunks due to entrapment and suffocation hazards
11/9/06 3,000 Cars toy storage benches recalled due to high levels of lead – sold at Toys R Us
12/3/98 IRIS USA recalled 100,000 plastic chests marketed for toy storage lacked a lid-support device, did not have adequate ventilation when the lid was closed and have latches that secure the lids. – sold by Target
7/22/98 Crate & Barrel recalled 7,000 toy chest/bench due to entrapment risk
1/12/98 Step 2 recalled 350,000 Big Storage Chests because of dangerous lids
1996 Lane and Virginia Maid brand cedar chests recalled because the chests lid automatically locks when the lid is closed
What you can do to make sure your child’s toy chest is safe.
Remove the latch or lock immediately from the lid of any toy chest. Or use open-topped bins and baskets to organize toys–a heavy lid is likely too difficult for children to open by themselves. And make sure your chest does not have an automatic latch. If your toy chest doesn’t stay open or latches automatically, stop using it and report it to the CPSC. They want to hear from you—that is how we can stop manufacturers from making products that harm our kids.
Attorney Jeffrey Killino is not only an experienced lawyer — he is also a child advocate. When a child injury or death occurs because of a dangerous product such as a toy chest, he has the know-how and resources to guide you through the legal process to get what you and your family are entitled to.
Jeffrey Killino believes that even one unsafe toy chest is one too many. Contact toy- and children’s product-injury attorney Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for expert assistance in obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled.