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Color Their World - Safe! Articles on child health and safety, from Nanny's Place

Hazards of Mini-Hammocks

They’re light-weight, portable, and attractive. They can also be deadly.

Made of net and without spreader bars, between five to seven feet wide and seven to 20 feet long, mini-hammocks hang like a thin rope when suspended between trees, or on a deck or porch. And like a rope, they can strangle and kill.

It’s the lack of spreader bars that does it. These bars hold the hammock open even when it’s empty; without them, the hammock can twist around your child’s neck and strangle her. This can happen as she is getting in or out of the hammock, or when she is playing on it or using it for a swing. (Spreader bars aren’t mentioned in the item referenced below about the Hangouts brand, but the danger cited is the same as the others.)

Apart from the strangulation risk, these hammocks are dangerous for small babies because a baby sleeping on soft bedding can become wedged in positions in which he can’t breathe. (You can find more information on soft bedding in Blankets, Bedding and Crib Toys - Soft Isn't Always Safe)

One Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recall of a mini hammock took place on May 10, 2000. The product is the Hangouts Baby Hammocks, 6-foot-long mini-hammocks woven from thin cotton strings with nylon end strings in solid or multiiped colors. If you have one of these hammocks stop using it immediately, and return it to Hangouts for a free, standard single hammock. For more information, call Hangout at (800) 205-4916 anytime.

No injuries have been reported with this particular brand of hammock, but there were reports of 12 child deaths in other mini-hammocks between 1984 and 1995, involving children from five to 17 years old. There is also a report of a seven-year-old girl who suffered permanent brain damage following nearangulation in a mini-hammock.

Several earlier recalls of mini-hammocks took place in 1996. In August of that year, Twin Oaks Hammock Company of Louisa, Va., and Safesport Manufacturing Company of Chapin, S.C., recalled their mini-hammocks without spreader bars. And that May, 10 other mini-hammock manufacturers and importers recalled over three million light-weight, net mini-hammocks.

For more information about these other hammock brands, please visit the pages above.

If you own a mini-hammock of any kind, you should take it down immediately. The recall articles say to return them to the stores for a full refund or replacement, but I don’t know if you can still do that with the brands that were recalled earlier. It doesn’t hurt to try, though. If you have a recently purchased brand of mini-hammock that is not on the recall lists, you may want to notify the CPSC. There’s a link on their site for reporting unsafe products.

If you can’t return it or don’t know where it was bought (or if you got one second hand), you should take it down and destroy it. (Rather than just trash it, you might want to see if you can take it apart and use the netting for something else.)

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Last updated Sun, Jun 4, 2006

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