Last week we told you about a major recall of Napa firepots that were shown to have been a burn hazard. Like any recall, the advice issued was to immediately stop using the product. But beyond that, what exactly should you do following a recall?
First, you need to identify whether you actually own the product that is being recalled. This might be easy for a big product like a car or appliance. But when it comes to smaller products like toys or even food items, it can be complicated. To help consumers, a recall notice will say which stores sold the product; if you shop at those stores then you might very well have the recalled product. The recall notice—at least if it’s for a non-food product—also generally includes a picture of the product.. That way if you’ve lost the original packaging you can compare your product to the photos.
If you own the recalled product, the single most important thing to do is obey the instructions in the recall notice. Companies don’t want to take their products of the shelves, so when they do, you can trust that it’s because a serious problem has arisen. Take notice and stop using the product.
Return the product to the store or simply dispose of it. Depending on how much you paid for the recalled product, you may want your money back. The recall notice—and probably the company website—will provide you with instructions on how to return a recalled product. If you choose to dispose of the product, follow any instructions that might be included in the recall notice.
Sometimes even if you own the product, the recall notice may not apply for you. It’s important to actually read why a product was recalled. For example, if a food product is recalled because of undeclared nut or dairy ingredients, individuals with allergies to those ingredients should definitely heed the warnings. But, if you don’t have allergies, then the recall doesn’t affect you.
If you experience any health symptoms or injury related to a recalled product, seek medical treatment. In the unfortunate event this happens, it’s also a good idea to write down what happened: when did you use the product? What happened when you used it? How did the injury occur or when did you start feeling symptoms? What treatment did you need? All of this information might become important if a lawsuit eventually emerges.
Keep yourself informed about recalls. One way to do this is to register products that you purchase; that way the company has a record of where their products went and when a recall occurs, they can notify you directly. You can also stay up to date on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website or www.recalls.gov, where you can also find the actual recall notices. And of course, many recalls are often covered by major news outlines.