Just in time for summer, product safety officers with Health Canada are warning second-hand store owners and garage salers about safety regulations. They’re also instructing border and customs agents about U.S. products that don’t meet Canadian safety standards.
According to Health Canada, by law, a person cannot import, sell, distribute or even lend or give away products that do not meet the requirements of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. That means even items sold at garage sales are subject to the law.
“Both the buyer and sellers have responsibilities,” said Kelvin Au, one of the agents recently in Windsor, Ont . “The best thing to do is ask as many questions as possible. You want to make sure to look at the label and make sure that labels are present.”
Au said some of the more common items of concern are car seats, cribs, blinds with cords and children’s jewellery. Car seats come with an expiry date, for example. Even some recalled toys can be found for sale at garage sales.
“Check with the manufacturer or importer. Call up the manufacturer to make sure it hasn’t been recalled,” Au said.
Many items sold at garage sales — especially children’s products — fall under the jurisdiction of the Hazardous Products Act. When it comes to bringing products into Canada, Au warns that baby walkers, lawn darts and yo-yo balls — a sticky rubber ball attached to a sticky string similar to a bungee cord — are banned in Canada.
Canada is the only country in the world to ban baby walkers — a seat attached to four wheels. Au said there is a risk babies learning to walk in the device would roll right down the stairs “We do see a lot coming into Canada,” he said of baby walkers. Yo-yo balls present a strangulation hazard for kids, Au said. And lawn darts were banned in 1989. Au said potential buyers at second hand stores and garage sales should inspect all used items. Know the product’s age, make sure they’re structurally sound and have safety devices, warning labels and instruction manuals.
“Use your best judgement,” Au said. “Do your best inspections. If you’re in doubt, I’d recommend not to buy it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Health Canada has pamphlets for garage sale vendors and second-hand store owners to help guide them. The agency also lists recalls on its website.