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Are Your "Bargain Buys" Safe?

Here are some tips to help you make safer purchases when you buy used clothing, toys or furnishings at a thrift store or yard sale.

Bunk Beds

Stop! Children can become entrapped and strangle in the bed structure or wedged between the bed and the wall and suffocate. Make sure all spaces between the guardrail and bed frame and all spaces in the bed headboard and foot boards of the top bunk are less than 3½ inches. There should be guardrails on both sides of the top bunk.


Alert! If crib slats are more than 2 3/8 inches apart, an infant might slip between them and strangle. And if the mattress doesn't fit snugly, an infant can become entrapped or suffocate. Make sure the crib meets national safety standards and is in good condition. Look for a certification tag. Measure the space between crib slats before buying.

Toy Basketball Nets

Stop! Toy basketball nets can present a strangulation hazard to children. Check before you buy. Make sure the net can't become unhooked from the rim and doesn't have sliding knots, because a child who puts his head in the opening could strangle. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled many such toy basketball nets. Make sure the one you are buying isn't one of them.

Clothing with Drawstrings

Avoid strings! Drawstrings in children's clothing, especially in the hood, can catch on playground and other equipment and strangle a child. Be sure there are no drawstrings around the hood and neck of children's outerwear, such as sweatshirts and jackets. And drawstrings at the waist should extend no more than three inches.

Playpens and Play Yards

Watch out! Playpens with protruding hardware can be dangerous. And folding play yards can collapse and trap a child if locking devices don't work properly. Check that playpens and play yards have not been recalled by the manufacturer. Examine carefully for broken parts.

Hair Dryers

Danger! Hair dryers without immersion protection plugs are dangerous because they won't shut off automatically if the hair dryer comes into contact with water. Look for hair dryers with large rectangular-shaped plugs. Check the cord for cuts or frayed outer covering.

Car Seat Infant Carriers

Be careful! It's never a good idea to buy or use a second-hand infant car seat and carrier. If you should decide to use a second-hand infant car seat, take it to the DMV to be inspected before you use it. Read more safety tips on child safety seats, proper installation and the correct seat size is key in keeping your child safe.

Halogen Floor Lamps

Check it out! Glass or wire guards with lower wattage bulbs can prevent fires that occur when flammable materials (curtains, etc.) get too close to the lamp. Make sure halogen torchiere floor lamps have glass or wire guards over the bulb shield and the bulb is 300 watts or less.

For more information about hazardous or possible recalled products, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or