Thursday, July 30, 2009
7 News Investigations: Backyard Danger
Parents will do almost anything to protect their children. But some say a government watchdog group is not doing enough to warn parents about a known Backyard Danger. 7's Lynn Martinez has the story.
WSVN -- Swing sets are supposed to be fun.
No parent would imagine playtime could end in tragedy.
Reed Cowan: "My child died of a hanging from a swing set in a backyard. The most freak accident you could ever imagine."
7 News anchor Reed Cowan lost his 4-year-old son Wesley after an accident on a swing set.
Reed Cowan: "He was going across those monkey bars, and as he did so. he fell into the corner of the trapeze bar, and he was gone in an instant."
Since that time, Reed has fought to get these kind of swing sets, with monkey bars overhead, out of backyards.
Reed Cowan: "This was a big selling item for swing set companies. It was a huge revenue generating design, and so it's been an uphill battle. It's been a tooth and nail fight to get it off the market, to get it banned."
But after a three-year battle, and often heated hearings with the manufacturers, ASTM-- the group which sets product safety standards in the U.S.-- has now officially banned the design.
Dr. Leonard Lucenko, safety expert: "This design does not protect children. This design maims and injures children."
Playground safety experts cheer that decision but say, even though the swing sets can't be made anymore, they are still in backyards across the country.
Scott Burto, safety expert: "If my grandchildren were with me and under my care, and I saw them going for a unit that had a design like this, I would say, stop."
Reed Cowan: "I see them in my neighborhood all the time, and when I drive by them, I want to go knock on the door, but you see, I, the grieving parent, shouldn't have to go knock on the door. The CPSC should knock on the door and put out an alert because that's why they exist in the first place."
The CPSC or Consumer Product Safety Commission is a government agency that is supposed to warn consumers about dangerous products.
But despite the injury reports, despite the death of Wesley Cowan, despite the product ban, it has issued no warning about this swing set.
Scott Burton: "There was a report done in New York, that asked CPSC to ban this design and that report was dated 1975."
That angers playground safety expert Scott Burton.
This week he sent an email to the CPSC demanding they take action. He wrote: "Now that ASTM has approved and published the ban on this design, CPSC must take the action that should have been taken long ago. Please issue a national safety alert press release to inform the public about the recognized hazard of hanging playground swings from monkey bar (horizontal ladder) beams."
The CPSC spokesperson Nychelle Fleming told us they will "review their home playground safety handbook to see if a warning about the design needs to be added to it."
Reed Cowan: "When parents know better, they do better and parents need to be told that this design has been banned from the market and if you have one get rid of it."
And Reed hopes that will happen before anymore children are hurt.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The Natural Handyman