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Buying second hand: How to tell if it's safe

When you go shopping at Goodwill do you think about whether the set of children's pajamas in your hands are up to current flame resistant standards?  Or how about the electric razor on the shelf ahead of you, do you consider whether it's been recalled recently for short circuiting before you buy it?

We pose these questions to our readers this week as part of our continuing effort to keep residents in California safe from dangerous products.  The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of product recalls made every year; and while a majority of them end in returns, some of these dangerous products find their ways onto second-hand store shelves across the nation.  Many of which are repurchased unknowingly by someone else.

As you may have gathered from the questions above, these unsafe products can be anything from child's clothing to an electronic device. This can be especially concerning nowadays with so many people still in a "recession" mentality. But saving big at second-hand stores might cost you in the long run, especially if you end up buying a previously recalled item.

While it's impossible to know every recalled product in the past few decades, there are a few ways consumers can protect themselves from making risky buys in the future. Simply typing the name of a product into a search engine on any smartphone device can often tell you if the product is safe to purchase. For parents, there are even some apps available that automatically update you when a children's product has been recalled. And while these simple tools may not save you from a dangerous product every time, at least they may offer you a chance at preventing a serious injury in the future.

Source: The Legal Examiner, "Safe Consumer Products - What's Safe, What's Been Recalled and How Do You Know?" Greg Webb, June 5, 2013

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