Striking a new low for the Nanny State, the CPSC last week recalled 1.7 million baby monitors/cameras for a missing warning label.
Let me repeat - this recall was over a missing warning label.
There is no sign from the announcement that the warning label was required by law - this is apparently an ex post facto requirement dreamt up by the CPSC.
Anyone ever heard of cost/benefit analysis in the U.S. government???
So what was the hazard? As with many baby product recalls, there were two deaths of infants involved. Two children, one six months old and one 20 months old, strangled on cords attached to baby monitors made by a company called Summer Infant. As Summer Infant notes on its recall notice, there have been seven strangulations since 2004 involving cords on baby monitors placed in or near cribs, but only two involved Summer Infant products. This is NOT a product recall, as they clarify - they are providing new stickers, a new guide and some clips to hold cords. It was a "voluntary" recall, or so the company says.
Let me get this out of the way: I am as regretful as the next person about the tragic death of two toddlers. I do not discount the significance of that loss.
However . . . dangling cords near a crib is a bad idea that most parents recognize. This is not specific to baby monitors, either. Check out the CPSC's illustration of the hazard:
This is the same hazard as ANY electrical device near a crib - a light, a radio, a humidifier, you name it. This is NOT a specific hazard of the baby monitor in question, nor of any specific electrical device. One wonders why the CPSC chose to recall this product or why they called their action a "recall".
It is unfortunately elemental that cords near a crib can maim or kill. This is no different than the hazard presented by the cords on blinds near a crib. It is very sad that such terrible accidents have happened seven times over eight years. That's seven unnecessary tragedies no doubt caused by mistake or simple error. Nonetheless, it is NOT the responsibility of the manufacturer or the State to guarantee good luck or good parenting. Some hazards are for the parents to manage. At a certain point, individual responsibility must be asserted.
As a manufacturer, the fiat of a federal agency issuing a RECALL for a missing warning label is terrifying, especially under these circumstances. Of course, consumers are becoming jaded by endless recalls, too. As the agency loses ALL perspective on which hazards deserve regulatory attention (everything seems to be a hazard these days), and blaring headlines numb everyone to the signficance of recalls in general, it is hard to resist cynicism. The CPSC with all the good intentions in the world . . . is starting to make a mockery of itself.
It's a mania. Somebody help us.