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CPSC, Lane Home Furniture urge renewed search for cedar chests: Two recent deaths reported

“… renewed search for cedar chests with lids that automatically latch shut when closed, locking children inside….”

lane cedar chest recallToday in its entirety: a U.S. government news release (updated 2018) with renewed warnings about vintage “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests. Thanks to reader Kate, who tipped me to this renewed safety alert. Please read on, for the details:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 27, 2014) – In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Lane® Home Furniture is calling for a renewed search for cedar chests with lids that automatically latch shut when closed, locking children inside. CPSC is aware of the recent deaths of a Franklin, Mass. brother and sister ages seven and eight who suffocated inside one of the chests. To prevent a similar tragedy, CPSC and Lane are urging consumers to check their “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests. CPSC’s investigation has determined that the lid on the 75-year-old Lane cedar chest closed and automatically latched shut, locking the children inside the chest. The second-hand Lane cedar chest was bought from a local resale store about 13 years ago. 

lane and virginia maid logosIn 1996, the Lane Company, Inc. recalled 12 million chests with latch/locks that automatically secure the lid when closed. They began offering new latch/locks free of charge that prevent children from being trapped inside the chest. The new latch/locks, which Lane continues to make available to consumers, do not automatically latch and trap children inside the chest when the lid is closed. The original recall included reports of six children suffocating to death inside these chests. A seventh suffocation death and two near fatalities occurred between 1996 and 2000.

The old style latches on all “Lane” and “Virginia Maid” brand cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987 need to be replaced. Chests can be identified by the brand name “Lane” or “Virginia Maid” located inside the cedar chest.  These chests are often handed down through families or purchased second-hand.

Consumers should immediately remove the latch from Lane/Virginia Maid cedar chests and contact Lane to receive new replacement hardware. This new hardware is easy to install by consumers in their homes and does not automatically latch shut. For certain chests made between 1912 and 1940, consumers will receive hardware that does not latch. For chests made from 1940 to present, consumers will receive hardware that does not automatically latch when closed and requires a person outside the chest to latch and lock the lid. If you own a similar hope chest or cedar chest that is not part of the recall, disable or remove the latch/lock.  Contact Lane toll-free at (800) 327-6944, Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT, or access their web site at http://www.lanefurniture.com/ to order the free replacement hardware. Consumers should have the chest’s serial and style numbers, which are branded on the outside bottom or back of the chest, available when contacting Lane.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC’s work to help ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @OnSafety or by subscribing to CPSC’s free e-mail newsletters.

  1. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Wow, Anna, you are very resourceful! It never ceases to amaze me what I learn from RetroRenoReaders!

  2. Scott says:

    Very sad, and I appreciate the alert and will pass it on.

    There’s been a Lane cedar chest in my parent’s house since before I was born, one of Mom’s high school graduation presents, and I never knew it had a self locking feature.

  3. Andrew says:

    You are correct, I believe. The reality is that no one believes you, particularly in the second hand environment. Perhaps the collectible universe can spread the word. Antiques Roadshow should do a little blurb on it, along with the potential solution.

    You are doing your part, Pam. This has been a known issue for a long time, but people forget, and the young get old and buy old stuff without knowledge of the inherent danger. Collectibles require eternal vigilance.

    perhaps a feature on “Known vintage dangers” along with a solution. The great thing about the Lane Chests is that there is a solution. It’s not like the lead paint/asbestos issue, where there really is not. . .

  4. carol mckee says:

    I have a cedar hope chest, it was the gift my grandfather gave my grandmother the day they were married, which was over 80 years old?? Inside there is a card that says, ” Cavalier Corporation”. It also locks when the heavy lid shuts. I am now a grandmother for the first time so I will want to change this but since it is not the Lane Company, not sure what to do.

  5. Dave L. says:

    It reminds me of the time how, as a toddler, I was goofing around to see if I would inside a family travel suitcase. Sure enough, as soon as allowed the lid to close on me, it latched shut. Fortunately, my brother and sister were in the same room and the only harm done was a little teasing. Could have been tragic, though. Though we can’t let it rule our lives, we must remain mindful of the mechanics of things that can hurt us.

  6. pam kueber says:

    carol, you need to try and find a properly licensed professional to help you with this question….

  7. Price says:

    This post combined with my busy-bodyism may well have saved a life. Recently I was browsing around a Goodwill store and I came across a large hope chest. I remembered this blog post and opened it up to check and see if it was a Lane. Sure enough it was. Still had the factory inserts and everything. And the lock was just how it’s described above. So I go up to one of the clerks and tell her about the recall and the tragedy last year and she looks at me like I just flew over the cuckoo’s nest. So I tell the manager and once again I’m pooh-poohed. Then I break out the googles and show him proof that I’m not making this up. He reluctantly took it off the selling floor. I always say I learn something every time I visit retrorenovation and this was no exception. So thank you for sharing this information. I truly believe something horrible was prevented from happening.

  8. Heidi E. says:

    Does anyone have a solution for the Sealtite brand which has the same issue? Maybe some way to disable the lock since the company isn’t around to replace them like Lane is.

  9. Tina Rosso says:

    Thank you, Price. Sorry, just seeing this post now. (5 yrs later! Unsure if you’ll see this) You very well may have saved a life. Sean and Lexi were my cousin’s children. Our family has been trying to send out the dangers, on FB yardsale sites, antique stores, craigslist, etc. Some people are not aware of the recall. Others, sadly, are ignorant, hurtful and simply do not care. We have to go past these people and continue to send out the message. Thank you so very much for your help. It means so very much to us. Tina

  10. Pam Kueber says:

    As I’ve said in response to other such questions in this thread, Heidi: Get with professionals to determine how to handle.

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