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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hope Chests Still Pose A Danger, Despite Recall

A Lane brand cedar chest. (Roadsidepictures/Flickr)

Lane Furniture recalled its cedar chests made between 1912 and 1987, after several children became trapped inside them and died. But hope chests with exterior-only locks are still relatively common. (Roadsidepictures/Flickr)

A family in Massachusetts is reeling after two of their children, ages 7 and 8, died after climbing into an old hope chest, which slammed shut and locked, suffocating them inside.

The chest was made by Lane Furniture of Virginia. In 1996, after reports of six children suffocating to death, the company recalled all Lane and Virginia Maid brand cedar chests produced between 1912 and 1987.

Still, one more child suffocated, and the company was reportedly fined for failure to get the word out. Now the word is spreading again.

It’s not clear if the family’s Lane chest was one of those models recalled, but their terrible loss made many others aware that a lot of old hope chests have these exterior-only locks.

Last night, I set on my grandmother’s with a hammer and broke the lock. You might want to check yours.

Note: If you have a chest from Lane Furniture with the outside-only lock, you can contact them to get a free safety lock (which does open from the inside) to replace it. More info here.

Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

And now we want to take a look at another story for just a second, which is, frankly, all we can bear. A family here in Massachusetts is reeling after two of their children, age 7 and 8, died after climbing into an old hope chest which slammed shut and locked, suffocating them inside. The chest was made by the Lane Company of Virginia.

In 1996, after reports of six children suffocating, the company recalled all Lane and Virginia-made cedar chests produced between 1912 and 1987. Still, one more child suffocated and Lane was reportedly fined for failure to get the word out. Now, the word is spreading again. It's not clear if the family's Lane chest was one of the models recalled, but their terrible loss made many others aware that a lot of old hope chests have these exterior-only locks.

Some younger people have been asking, what's a hope chest anyway? It's where, once, young women would store items in the hopes of getting married and having children. Last night, I set on my grandmother's with a hammer and broke the lock. You might want to check yours. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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  • psanow

    Thanks for the information. We had no idea that the chest we inherited was a hazard. However, while ending this story with an unhelpful but zingy comment about breaking the lock on an old chest, wouldn’t it be better to just replace it? Too bad the story on the air provided no information, though I see a link below the story for the people that come back to the website. We’ll replace our lock and not use a hammer thank you very much.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~tomleem BigGoofyGuy

    Having a recall 27 years after they were made seems rather odd, IMO. It is tragic but at what time are the people who own and use something become responsible for their own property or actions?

    • kay

      why wouldn’t you want the facts and err on “the safe side’. Just like old disguarded refridgeraters that were left outside. How many deaths before someone does something. Just get the news out about it.

    • david breaux

      actually its in line considering a new generation of idiots are born every year! You can never predict the stupidity of people from year to year and safety concerns are up to someone responsible because watch jerry springer the people obviously are clueless!

  • Nanc

    We have one from 1982 and lost the key. I love my hope chest and will get the lock replaced in case we hand it down. It was beautifully made and my gift from my husband. It was always filled and locked when my kids were little. It is a tragic accident to lose your children but the chest should of been looked at when they bought it. Mine is very heavy and slams when you shut it. I knew there was a lock and key for a reason as my mother had one also. You can’t punish the Lane company as nobody knows the full situation unless you were there.

  • James Davenport

    I have dealt with lane and chests prior to 1940 they are not replacing those locks..They do not have a replacement lock for pre 1940 chests..They send you a replacement latch and the chest will never lock again.. I am going thru the federal gov on this issue because per the gov ruling they are suppose to replace the locks on all of these chests… What it amounts to is money.. It is a 30 dollar item they do not want to spend the money on…

    • jrly

      Ya for countless chests. No kidding they don’t want to spend money on it.

  • Guest

    The form letter..from lane..

  • david breaux

    im just looking for information regarding the value and year!

    Im finding information i rather not!
    I raised a daughter now 13 i never had to slightly worry about idiot proofing anything!
    The thought of that chest is alarming but i still think it takes a rear breed to end up stuck inside long enough to die!

    But why does this web page repeat twice?

    Is that for dip sticks or what?

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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