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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:

    Pam and Reader Kate, thank you for bringing this tragedy and the means to prevent more deaths to the attention of RetroRenoReaders (Just made that up.)

    I mentioned a while ago on another post that I was involved during the 1980s in researching ways to prevent children’s injuries for a nonprofit group. (I think that post got deleted.) Anyway, my DH did hear about this problem long ago and we had a secondhand Lane chest. So he replaced the latch with the free one the company is again offering. Again, a reminder for people “FOR EXAMPLE” [pam adds] buying vintage or used furniture in homes with children–painted furniture should be tested for lead, and cribs should be purchased new (problems in the old ones include [BUT MAY NOT BE LIMITED TO, pam adds] the width between the slats, the loose fit of the mattresses, and breaking side rail mechanisms, all of which have resulted in child deaths). AS YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE [pam adds] – Any chest, such as a toy chest or linen chest to which any child has access should be fitted with the new lock mechanisms, anti-slam features on the hinges, and some kind of air outlet of the type KayRay mentions. AND YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE [pam adds] Also, think about your old appliances and whether children can be trapped in your vintage refrigerator or tip the stove on themselves. [PAM SAYS: PEOPLES, I remain concerned about giving folks specific safety advice unless it comes from a government or manufacturer source – as is the case of this Lane Home Furniture recall/issue. I will leave up what Mary Elizabeth has written here, though, as a generic reminder to parents about SOME of the things they can take take their own time to learn about and address. PEOPLES: GET YOUR OWN PROPERLY LICENSED expert help to identify and address the safety and environmental issues in your home and its contents.]

    Kay, I share your memories of a grandfather who was a skilled master carpenter. Some of our grandpas were way ahead of their times in innovations that improved child safety.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thank you, Mary Elizabeth. Yes, I did not approve that other comment because I remain concerned about giving folks specific safety advice unless it comes from a government or manufacturer source – as is the case of this Lane Home Furniture recall/issue. I will leave up what you have written here though as part of a generic reminder to parents about SOME of the things they can take take their own time to learn about and address. PEOPLES: GET YOUR OWN PROPERLY LICENSED expert help to identify and address the safety and environmental issues in your home and its contents.

      1. Mary Elizabeth says:

        Yes, Pam, I can absolutely see the fine line here. You are not set up to dispense specific safety advice, but I appreciate–and I’m sure all your readers appreciate–that you point out things to be aware of when enjoying old homes and old furniture.

        The magazine articles, Congressional testimony, and book chapters I wrote back in the ’80s were designed to disseminate information on specific issues that had already been thoroughly researched by the agencies, such as CPSC and National Institutes for Health,

        I recommend that people get on the CPSC alert list already mentioned in your article.

        Another source for child safety information is pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners. They will advise parents about lead issues, for example.

        Yet another source are manufacturers themselves, who often have their own associations to examine safety issues. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association is another group that I worked with that provides information to parents on child safety. They can be found at http://furninfo.com/Furniture%20World%20Archives/3508.

        Finally, for child safety restraints and other auto safety issues that affect children, a good source is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: http://www.iihs.org/.

        Again, keep sharing safety information like this that you get from legitimate sources. Your readers really appreciate it and all you do.

        1. pam kueber says:

          Thank you for the additional links, Mary Elizabeth. Yes, readers, the internet has made it much easier to find good resources — just make sure you are working with real authorities up on the latest.

  2. Just another Pam says:

    Thank you very much for the information as I’m about to give my mother’s cedar chest. Will also forward the information to a sweet lady who runs local estate sales as this isn’t common knowledge around here.

  3. 52PostnBeam says:

    I bought one of these 18 months ago at a Restore and found out about the lock issue when I did research on the web. I didn’t know they were offering replacements for free however, so I just ordered one. I keep the chest in a safe place and although I don’t have kids, I always keep it closed because pets like to get into boxes and play as well. It seriously creeped me out even knowing I had such a thing in the house … I’ll feel better with the new lock, thanks!

  4. Nina462 says:

    I don’t think anyone will get locked in my Lane chest….as it’s only a small jewelry box one that sits on my dresser 🙂 a saleman’s sample.

    I feel this warning would apply to all trunks as well. I have 2 in my house, one is FULL of stuff and the other is a steamer trunk with drawers. No room to hide in either trunk.

    Thanks for the advise Pam –

  5. kim wagner says:

    I bought a vintage Lane about 8 years ago,my father didnt like the latch,my son was young at the time,I contacted Lane and they sent me new one free.

  6. SB says:

    Thanks, Pam. It’s one of those things, the more exposure stories like this get, the better. I appreciate you looking out for the little ones!

  7. Anna K. says:

    FYI – if your chest doesn’t have the style and serial numbers on the back, you might be able to read them off the bottom without lifting it.

    My cedar chest is one of the bigger models and is too heavy for me to lift. I used a hand mirror and a flashlight to read the numbers off the bottom of the chest (they were in the center, at the back). Problem solved!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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