Baby Gates — Consider the Safety Issues
By the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Baby gates are used at the top and bottom of stairs or in open doorways to prevent toddlers from falling or entering unsafe areas. But some baby gates themselves are dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns parents and others who care for children that accordion-style baby gates that have large V-shaped openings along the top edge and diamond-shaped openings between the slats pose an entrapment and strangulation hazard.
Children have died when their heads were entrapped in the V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings when they attempted to crawl through or over the gates. Although these hazardous accordion-style baby gates have not been sold since 1985, you may still find them at yard sales or in thrift stores.
If You Will Be Using a Baby Gate
- Choose a gate with a straight top edge and rigid bars or mesh screen, or an accordion-style gate with small V-shapes and diamond-shaped openings. Entrances to V-shapes should be no more than 1 1/2 inches (38 mm) in width to prevent head entrapment.
- Be sure the baby gate is securely anchored in the doorway or stairway it is blocking. Children have pushed gates over and fallen down stairs.
- Install gates that are retained with an expanding pressure bar with this bar on the side away from the child. A child may use the pressure bar as a toehold to climb over a gate. Pressure gates are not recommended at the top of stairways. CPSC is aware of a number of incidents where pressure gates have popped out of openings at the top of stairs resulting in children falling down stairs.
Circular wooden enclosures that expand, accordion-style, can present the same entrapment and strangulation hazards as the accordion-style gates. Children have died when they caught their necks in the V-shaped openings along the top edge of the enclosure, apparently as they were attempting to climb out. CPSC recommends that you do not use accordion-style expandable enclosures with V-shaped or diamond-shaped openings.