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Target Recall for Weighted Blanket After Young Children Suffocate to Death

A child sleeping under a weighted blanket

Target is recalling weighted children’s blankets that were sold in its stores and online after two children in North Carolina died, and two others were entrapped while using the product.

According to news reports and an alert issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), two sisters – 4 and 6 – suffocated after they became entrapped in a Pillowfort Weighted Blanket back in April 2022. Days before Christmas, Target and the CPSC recalled about 240,000 of these blankets that include a zipper.

Dangerous Weighted Blanket Product Design

According to the CPSC, the two girls were playing and sealed themselves inside the blanket cover, which caused them to suffocate. The deaths occurred at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base camp in North Carolina. The girls died in their family home on the base where their father is a staff sergeant. No one was charged in connection to the deaths. After those fatalities, Target reported that two other children also became trapped in the product, but survived.

The weighted blankets were sold for $40 each, exclusively at Target stores nationwide and online, from December 2018 through September 2022. The CPSC stated in its urgent recall notice: “a young child can become entrapped by unzipping and entering the blanket, posing a risk of death by asphyxiation.” The blankets weigh six pounds and measure 60 inches long and 40 inches wide, and have a removable, waterproof, and washable cover. The blankets come in eight prints and colors.

Risk of Entrapment

Safety experts say that the zipper component of the blankets acts like a duvet cover where one could zip the cover of the blanket up and down. This is a problem for young children who could unzip the cover, get into it and become entrapped. Some of the weighted blankets are also heavy in relation to the body weight of very young children, and that could be a hazard in itself as well, according to experts. While they say that adults and teens should be fine using these weighted blankets, they most certainly pose a serious risk for younger children.

CPSC is urging parents who have these recalled blankets at home to stop using them right away. Consumers can contact Target to receive a prepaid shipping label to return the blankets by mail, or they can be returned at any Target store. When they return the blanket, consumers will receive a $40 refund in the form of a credit for use at Target stores or online.

What is a Weighted Blanket?

A weighted blanket is a therapeutic sleep aid that is becoming increasingly popular with people of all ages. The idea behind these products is to provide even pressure across the body. The extra weight comes from objects such as plastic pellets, glass beads, or ball bearings that are sewn into the blankets. Some products avoid the use of such fillings altogether simply by opting for layers of heavy fabric instead.

These blankets typically weigh 5 to 30 pounds, or sometimes even more. A standard blanket or duvet may weigh a few pounds at most. So, even a weighted blanket on the lighter side may feel substantially heavier than the blankets with which most people are familiar.

Weighted Blanket Benefits

Weighted blankets are designed to provide health benefits. They are associated with reducing stress and anxiety and helping users enjoy a deeper sleep. The sensation of being secure under added pressure has a calming effect on the body. It can also help those with sensory disorders, as well as chronic pain and other issues because the pressure can help soothe the nervous system.

Are Weighted Blankets Safe?

With regard to safety, weighted blankets are considered generally safe for adults. But the National Sleep Foundation warns against young children using these blankets because they can pose a suffocation risk. Even older children or adolescents should use weighted blankets only as long as they are of an appropriate weight, according to the foundation’s website. It is always best to check with a pediatrician before buying a weighted blanket for a child, experts say.

Issue of Defective Design?

In this particular case, with this brand of recalled weighted blankets, it appears that the problem was with the removable blanket cover, which could leave children trapped inside and pose the risk of suffocation. This may be an issue of defective design. In such cases, product manufacturers are also required to warn consumers about potential dangers.

If your child has been injured while using these recalled Pillowfort Weighted Blankets, which were specifically marketed for children, it is important that you contact an experienced product liability lawyer who will help you secure maximum compensation for your losses. Those who have lost a loved one as the result of a defective product may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for their tremendous losses.

In any product defect case, plaintiffs must show evidence that the product was defective because of a manufacturing or design defect, or because the manufacturer or some other responsible party (such as a retailer or distributor) failed to warn consumers about the hazards posed by the product.

In addition, plaintiffs must also show that the defective product caused their injuries or losses and that they suffered damages and losses because of the defective product. An experienced product defect attorney will be able to compile evidence in such complex cases and help ensure that victims’ rights are protected at every step of the process.

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