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Two strollers designated Don't Buy: Safety Risk due to strangulation hazard

Two strollers designated Don’t Buy: Safety Risk due to strangulation hazard

Our most recent test of strollers revealed two models that pose a potential strangulation hazard. We have designated these models, the iCandy Cherry (at right), and the Mutsy Evo (at left), Don’t Buy: Safety Risk.

Like many strollers, the Cherry and the Evo have a removable grab bar that attaches above the child’s legs. The problem: When a child is placed in either model with the grab bar in its normal use position, the opening between the grab bar and the seat surface may be large enough to allow the child’s torso, but not the child’s head, to pass through. As a result, a child’s head could get caught on the bar, potentially resulting in asphyxiation. This hazard, known as “submarining”, exists only if the child is placed unharnessed in the stroller, something you should never do. Our test for this hazard, which uses a probe to represent a dimension of a child’s head and a smaller probe to represent a child’s torso, is based on the ASTM International voluntary stroller safety standard.

At least 10 children died between 1995 and 2008 as a result of submarining in strollers, according to the most recent statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We do not know of any injuries specifically associated with the iCandy Cherry, or the Mutsy Evo.

If you already own a Cherry or an Evo, Consumer Reports recommends that you remove the grab bar from the stroller. The strollers are safe to use if you are careful to always use the stroller’s harness, as you should do with any stroller.

Both the Cherry from iCandy World Limited of Bedfordshire, England, and the Evo from Mutsy USA, Inc., of Chester, New Jersey, are manufactured in China.

Upon notification of Consumer Reports’ test findings, spokespersons for iCandy and Mutsy, both acknowledged that their respective stroller models do not meet the passive containment section of the ASTM International safety standard and indicated that their companies would work with the CPSC on an appropriate action to take.

Consumer Reports notified the CPSC of our findings. CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said he could not yet comment on the findings citing a “federal requirement, unique to the CPSC, that the agency provide the manufacturer with 10 days notice of what is proposed to be said about a product if there is no recall currently in place”.

Suzie Radcliffe-Hart, head of quality assurance for iCandy, said that the company had been contacted by the CPSC and “will endeavor to assist them in any way we can. Initially, we would propose to offer a new bumper bar (grab bar) to our customers free of charge. This bumper bar would be modified and tested before supply to enable passage of the spherical probe.” She said the company would work with the CPSC and distributors and retailers to notify customers of the free replacement grab bar. In addition, Radcliffe-Hart said she anticipates that a toll free telephone number will be established for owners of the Cherry to order the replacement bar.

Approximately 2646 Cherry strollers have been sold in the United States and Canada since 2009, when iCandy was first established, according to Radcliffe-Hart, who added that no more Cherry strollers will be shipped to the United States.

Stellario D’Urso, vice president for Mutsy USA, said that the company is manufacturing two versions of the Evo stroller–one for sale in the U.S. that does meet ASTM International safety standards and one for sale in Europe that meets standards set by the European Economic Community. He said 368 units intended for sale in Europe were mistakenly shipped to the United States in 2012 and that constitutes the total number of Evo units imported to the United States. Mutsy has been working with the CPSC, D’Urso said, and is proposing to work with retailers to directly contact as many owners as possible to offer them the choice of a replacement seat (the seat on the Evo is a separate component from the frame) or a refund. “Ultimately, I am confident that we will be able to track down most of them,” he said. The company will also provide a toll-free telephone number for owners to obtain the seat or refund.

The European versions of the Evo model that have been shipped to the United States have stickers on the bottom of the removable seat that indicate the week in 2012 during which they were manufactured. These units have numbers in the range of MT12-03-2012 to MT-12-48-2012, according to D’Urso who said that Evos that comply with the ASTM International standard are currently being manufactured and he expects that they will be available for sale in the United States by late January or early February.

During testing over the past few years, Consumer Reports has found a similar strangulation hazard with other strollers as well as one high chair. The strollers include the Valco Baby Tri-Mode Single and Twin, the Tike Tech City X3, and the Tike X3 Sport, all recalled in October 2010; the Zooper Waltz, recalled in May 2011; and the Bumbleride Indie and Indie Twin, recalled in February 2012. The Dream on Me Bistro High Chair was recalled in October 2012 along with the Dream on Me Happy Swing II . Consumer Reports did not test the Happy Swing II, but the CPSC cited the same strangulation hazard in announcing the recall.

If you in the market for a new stroller check out our stroller buying guide. Subscribers can see our stroller Ratings.

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