Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Maclaren Stroller Recall

On Monday, Maclaren recalled every stroller it has ever sold in the US, because of a mutilation hazard presented in the hinges.  Fingers on or near the hinge flex points can be severely pinched or even mutilated.

From what I've seen, one of the major places this can happen is on the main frame of the stroller, perhaps referred to as the "side bars".  Others refer to it as the "elbow hinge."  When the stroller is folded, the top and bottom bars of the frames "V" open.  When they are almost in line with each other, they snap into the elbow hinge with a clear click.  I'm not sure if there is a spring coil and that snaps the bars into the hinge, but when the stroller is opened, there is a noticable snapping sound.  This is the moment when a little finger (or a carrot) can be crushed (as demonstrated by a British news segment).

Here is a feature on ABC news, showing the area of hazard and potential injury.  Owners of Maclarens can contact the company for hinge covers.  They are made of black nylon and attach to the frame with velcro loops.

There are a lot of comments out there about how silly this recall is, e.g., "Who lets their kid stand so close to the stroller anyway?"  I can see exactly how and why.  While a mom is trying to keep a bag from falling off her shoulder, close the trunk, and unfold a stroller, she also has to make sure her toddler does not wander away.  Since she can't hold the child's hand AND do all of the above, she'll say something like "keep your hand on the stroller, sweetie."  That's also something moms say to their older children when they are putting a younger baby into a stroller, basically, "anchor yourself to something tangible until I can take your hand again."  Also, moms and kids do the in/out stroller routine so often, I could see how the child might be halfway seated in the stroller, or lowering him or herself into it, just before that final "SNAP."  So quit snickering, you know who you are, it could happen.

Personal anecdote vindicating purchase decision:  About 6 years ago, when my husband and I were shopping for strollers, we were pointed to the Maclaren, which was, at the time, the premium brand.  (This was before Bugaboo mania.) 

My top criterion was that the stroller be one-hand foldable, and Maclaren did not fit the bill.  When the salesperson demonstrated the whole "kick it with your foot, fold it forward, then collapse it to the ground" maneuver, I gave it a big thumbs-down.  I guess all that manipulation is required because of all the hinges, which allow the stroller to fold up so compactly.  Much more than I knew I'd be able to handle -- not to mention I'm somewhat of a tightwad, and would never spend that much on a stroller anyway.  We ended up with a Graco Citilite (since discontinued), which I could fold and lift into the trunk with one hand, in less than five seconds, while holding my baby in the other arm.  Used the heck out of that thing for five years, and it was under $100.

More links:
The official announcements by Maclaren USA and the CPSC PSA
A British news segment, featuring buggy as veggie snapper

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