Fire Safety Effort Launched

April 17, 2001 -- BODA-BING, GIL, HAPPY and WAX.

Those are names stamped on the metal sides of cigarette lighters recalled today because of defective child-restraint mechanisms.

"Tragically, there was a death involving a 4-year-old girl who was playing with one of the lighters, ignited the bedding in her bedroom and then hid in the closet," said Ken Giles, a spokesman with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The commission said a California company that imports the Chinese-made disposable cigarette lighters has agreed to recall about 13 million. Convenience, drug and discount stores nationwide sold these lighters from early 1998 through February for about $1. Consumers can take the lighters back to the stores where they bought them for a refund.

Time to Toss Out Hazardous Products

The commission announced the lighter recall alongside the launch of a "recall round-up" to rid homes of other fire hazards. The agency is the federal regulatory body that protects the public by reducing the risk of injury or death from 15,000 types of consumer products under its jurisdiction.

Faulty heaters, cigarette lighters, lamps, dishwasher switches or extension cords are blamed for many of the household fires that claim 3,000 lives a year and injure 16,000 others, it said.

Ann Brown, chairwoman of the CPSC, visited Fire Engine Station 3 in Washington, D.C., to kick off a nationwide campaign to get Americans to discard hazardous consumer products that could lead to a deadly fire. "We can get dangerous products off store shelves, but the real challenge is to get them out of families' homes," Brown said in a statement.

The products on the round-up list have been recalled in the past or became outdated when new safety standards were put into place.

Nearly 2,000 fire stations nationwide have agreed to collect the household fire hazards. The campaign has enlisted the support of governors, state health officials and community organizations to publicize the round-up and distribute fire safety information.

Children are particularly vulnerable to household fires, the agency says. About 500 children under age 5 are killed each year in household fires. These fires result in property losses of about $4 billion.

The agency has a toll-free telephone number and a Web site dedicated to providing information about recalled products. It also offers consumer information in evaluating products. To reach the agency via telephone, call 1-800-638-2772. A list of major recalls is maintained at www.cpsc.gov.