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Is it Safe to Buy Secondhand Equipment?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 4 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Equipment Baby Child Safe Safety

Being a parent can be an expensive business, especially when it comes to kiting your baby or child out with all the equipment they need. While it might be tempting to cut corners and save money by buying secondhand products, is it safe to purchase used equipment?

From the money saving point of view, the benefits in buying secondhand baby and child equipment are obvious. But while you might be saving a bit of cash, you could well be compromising your baby or child’s safety by purchasing secondhand. Not all secondhand products will have safety issues attached to them, but where major equipment is concerned – like a cot, stair gate or highchair – the risks are there.

One of the main problems is that you may not know exactly how old a product is or what history it’s had. Another issue is that the Safety Standards for a product may have changed since the version you purchase, so you not end up with the latest or safest item. It’s also possible that safety issues with an item may have been discovered by the manufacturer since it was made or the product may have officially been recalled, but slipped through the net.

It’s helpful to ask the seller questions or research the product number (if available) before you buy, but it’s never so easy to be 100% sure about all secondhand products. Even if you’re being given a secondhand item from a friend or family member, it’s not guaranteed to be safe for use now if it’s already been well used over the years. Don’t worry about offending a relative by not using a hand-me-down item – your child’s safety is paramount.

Equipment Issues

There are various issues you need to be aware of if considering buying secondhand baby or child equipment. Here’s a round-up of some of the major issues with several commonly used pieces of equipment.

Highchairs

  • Unless you have the original manual and box, it’s hard to be sure that a secondhand highchair conforms to the latest safety standards (BS EN 14988).
  • Older, secondhand highchairs may not be as stable or safe as new models. For example, if it has four wheels on it, this is no longer regarded as being safe.
  • The trays on secondhand high chairs can secretly be home to a number of bacteria and germs. Plus, older models may have trays made with chemicals that are now banned from use in the UK.
  • If a tray has been damaged at some point, then it could prove to be a safety hazard.

Stair Gates

  • It’s essential that a stair gate fits your stairs snugly, but it’s not always so easy to achieve with a secondhand or worn out product.
  • Older stair gates may have been made or coated with products now deemed unsafe for children.
  • Secondhand stair gates may not come equipped with all the necessary fittings and fixtures, which are essential for ensuring full safety of the gate. If you decide to buy new, John Lewis stock an affordable range of safety gates.

Cots

  • If a cot has been painted, then there is the possibility that the paint may contain harmful chemicals.
  • Older models of cots may have the bars spaced wider, which could pose a danger to a child.
  • The wood on secondhand cots may have suffered wear and tear over the years. For example, the wood could have become damaged, which could prove dangerous.
  • Secondhand cots don’t always come complete with the instructions or the original fixtures and it may be tricky to find a mattress that fits it properly.
  • Using secondhand cot mattresses has been linked to health issues, including germs and even cot death.
  • Most importantly, you can’t be 100% sure that a secondhand cot will conform to the latest safety standards (BS EN 716).
Whatever form of secondhand baby or child equipment you’re considering buying, don’t forget to do your homework and ensure it’s in tip-top condition before you use it. If you’re in any doubt, give it a miss; there’s no point in putting your child’s life at risk by using dodgy equipment.

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