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Products Recalled? Check Here

May 01, 2000|JERRY HICKS

Ever walk into a post office and actually check out the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, just to see the latest bad guys?

Now a different list is on its way to your local mail station, and it won't include bank robbers or murdering thugs. But this set of pictures poses a new set of dangers.

It's a list of recalled items, put out by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In some cases, thousands, even millions, of these items were purchased by consumers before they could be recalled, and the feds want to warn you about them.

Its poster list is called "Important Safety Recalls."

"Don't let these recalled products kill or injure a child in your home," the poster states.

Commission spokesman Ken Giles said that post offices seemed a good place to get the word to consumers, since we all use them sometime. The post office this month had 33,000 posters sent to its branches nationwide.

They've been posted on the East Coast and Giles was under the impression they were here too.

Not yet. I checked out numerous post offices in central and northern Orange County and didn't find them anywhere.

That's because they haven't been distributed by the regional headquarters, said Richard Maher, spokesman for the Orange County postal district. He expects them to go out soon.

The recalled products will change as new items are ordered recalled, and the posters will change, probably quarterly, Giles said.

Here are a few of the products on the inaugural list:

* Pokemon balls. Those are included with Burger King meals--more than 25 million of them last November-December. The government ordered their recall because they may pose a suffocation hazard to children younger than 3. (If you return such a Pokemon ball to Burger King, you can get a free order of French fries.)

* Swimming pool dive sticks. While they may look innocent enough, the commission reports injuries from children impaled on them when jumping into a shallow pool.

* Lane Co. cedar chests. These were made between 1912 and 1987 and have lids that automatically latch when closed. You don't have to throw out your cedar chest, just the lock. Send the lock back to the company and it will send you a new one.

The other three on the list are car seat carriers and a portable crib that do not meet modern safety standards.

By the way, on my search for the recall posters, I discovered that I didn't see the FBI Most Wanted lists either. I found only one posted, and that was in a back room where you pay for passports. One postal worker said they haven't posted FBI lists for more than a year.

But postal spokesman Maher said it still has an agreement with the FBI to display its lists. It also is required to post missing children lists, and (in California) a dead-beat dads list. What happens, Maher said, is that post offices run out of room, so they meet legal requirements by keeping posters in a special book available to the public.

If that's the case, a lot of postal workers aren't aware of it; none had ever heard of such a book when I asked to see one.

The recall poster list is a great idea. Let's hope post offices will take it seriously and display them where the public can see them.

Jerry Hicks' column appears Monday and Thursday. Readers may reach Hicks at (714) 966-7789 or

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