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Senior-minded regulators ramp up defective product recalls

Although health-conscious California residents often remain active well into older age, eventually many people develop physical or cognitive issues. The oldest and youngest Americans are the most vulnerable to accidents, including injuries caused by defective products. Seniors are the victims of 65 percent of all product-related fatalities.

Not all trips, burns, falls or other accidents are caused by product manufacturer mistakes. Some are the result of product misuse. However, disturbing consumer product injury statistics and an ever-increasing older population have prompted federal officials to ratchet up warnings about senior safety.

A 2013 study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission defined which products posed the most danger for people 65 and older. Injuries involving bedding, furniture, floor coverings and yard equipment were far more prevalent among seniors than people in the 24 to 64 age group. Five million U.S. seniors visit doctors or hospitals each year with injuries caused by consumer products; falls are responsible for 40 percent of the treatments. An injury from a misused or defective product hospitalizes senior citizens five times more often than younger people. Costs linked to product injuries and deaths among older people are a staggering $100 billion per year. The CPSC has been searching out flawed products sold to older Americans and ordering product recalls.

This year, the agency ordered a recall of Linear Personal Emergency Reporting System Transmitters. The medical alerts did not warn users when batteries ran low. Some users were unaware the systems weren’t working. A recall also was ordered for Bed Handles adult bedrails. Three users died after becoming trapped between mattresses and the company’s bedrails. While bedrail accidents are closely associated with infants, entrapments kill seven times more seniors than babies.

Home safety precautions can be added to reduce accidents among seniors. However, sometimes legal action is necessary when an older person’s injury or death is due to a manufacturer’s dangerous product.

Source: Forbes, "4 Ways To Keep Your Parents (And You) Safe," Caroline Mayer , July 8, 201

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