Dangerous drop side cribs still for sale despite ban

BALTIMORE - They're considered the toughest crib safety standards in the world, but is everyone honoring the newest rules put in place by the Consumer Product Safety Commission when it comes to cribs? ABC2 News Investigator Joce Sterman found some are not and they could be putting some babies at risk.

Playtime in the summer sun at the Rodgers Forge Tot Lot is enough to tire anyone out, even E.J. Sutherland. He had the run of the place and now this little guy's ready to trade in the park bench for his big boy bed. His mom, Susie, says, "We kept him in a crib until he was starting to climb out, so he's only been out about 3-4 months."

E.J. had a new crib. His parents felt they had no choice but to ditch the one they used for his two older sisters. Susie Sutherland explains, "It would drop down when we didn't want it to and we felt it was risky."

Those drop side cribs are considered risky because babies could get hurt or even killed in them. There have been millions of drop side recalls and more than 30 deaths connected to the product. That's why, just weeks ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission officially banned stores and companies from making or selling drop side cribs. Agency spokeswoman Nychelle Fleming says, "We are celebrating the fact that there's a new, safer generation of cribs available to consumers."

But don't break out the party hats just yet, because an ABC2 News Investigation found it's still easy to find these potentially dangerous banned cribs for sale. We shopped around at dozens of chain stores, consignment shops and second hand stores and didn't find a single drop side crib for sale. But once we clicked on the web, they were easy to find. Our discovery was upsetting to the CPSC.

Fleming says, "We're concerned, the Commission is definitely concerned, anytime a hazardous product is being sold, whether it be recalled or non-compliant crib with an existing standard."

And plenty of non-compliant cribs are available. From retailers to regular Joes, you can find them all over the web. While some sellers have dropped drop sides from their sites, days ago we found others still offer them. We found discounted drop sides and some selling at full retail, even with claims that they meet all CPSC standards.

Online stores aren't the only ones who deserve a time out though. Private sellers are using sites like Craigslist to offload their drop side cribs in cities across the country from Baltimore to Seattle. Some don't seem aware of the new standard, like one seller who says, "It's the sturdiest crib with drop side rails we could find".
Others seem aware of some problems, but say the crib will still be safe.

But no matter the claim, the CPSC wants drop side cribs off the web because they pose a danger to buyers who may not know the new rules. Fleming tells us, "We know there's a lot of cribs out there in circulation, we hope with our educational efforts and also working with industry directly that we can stop these products from being sold and create a safer environment for babies."

We turned our findings over to the CPSC's internet surveillance team last week. The agency says that division is trying to police sales on the net. But it's clear moms and dads need to do some detective work on their own. Susie Sutherland did, dropping the drop side from her home once she learned of the danger years ago. She says, "I think it's just important to do your research and if you hear there's been safety concerns with a drop down crib, then no way buy one. Why would you want to put your child in danger?"

Some of the items seen in our story were just removed tonight after we contacted the companies.Other companies say they no longer stock the drop sides; they just need to update their websites. Craigslist says it posts a warning about offering recalled items and users can flag a post if they spot anything questionable.

The CPSC says there's been no action taken against any companies since the ban went into effect at the end of June. The agency says it has field staff surfing the web and stores, looking for banned cribs and other recalled items every day of the year.

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