Garage Sale Safety

STOP Cutting Corners

STOP Cutting Corners!

I’m quite certain that Regina, Saskatchewan is the center of the Garage Sale universe. On a particularly busy Friday or Saturday you would be able to find over 100 garage sales in the city of Regina. We just had a garage sale this past weekend and it always feels good to get rid of things and even better to make some money while doing so.

So where does safety come in the picture? Looking both ways before you cross the street? Or how about not filling your vehicle too full of everyone else’s junk that it impedes your ability to drive? Likely two things to consider, but I was referring to the safety of the actual items that are being sold. If a product such as a baby walker has been deemed unsafe, do your community a favour and throw it out … don’t try to profit from something that may end up harming someone.

My wife, Nathalie, has been enjoying garage sales for years and I would have to say she’s very good at seeking out deals. I enjoy the occasional sale, but I’m quite content to enjoy the fruit of her labour without having to be part of the hunt. In the summer of 2003, one particular treasure she brought back to the family was a croquet set. We had the opportunity to play croquet with our friends and the kids really enjoyed it. My son, Noah, was nearly eight years old and my daughter Kylie had just turned five. We were excited about having our own croquet set, but there was an unexpected bonus to this purchase … underneath the croquet set was a set of lawn darts.

Lawn DartsI grew up in the 80’s and lawn darts were very common, but for obvious reasons they were deemed unsafe and the product was banned. When I saw the darts I gathered both my kids around and said “These are very dangerous, you never touch them because you could get hurt”. Thinking I’d been very proactive we put the newly purchased treasures away. In the back of my mind I was thinking when the kids get older we’ll take those darts out and have some fun, just like I did when I was a kid.

The next day my niece came to visit us in Regina and the kids were playing in the back yard while the adults were around the front of the house. Suddenly there came this blood curdling scream from the back yard. We dropped everything and ran … I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see. Noah was running towards me and blood was flowing from out of his eye.

“Noah, What happened?”

“Kylie hit me with a lawn dart!”

What? My heart sank, why did I keep those blasted things? How easy would it have been to prevent this from happening in the first place? I thought Noah was going to be blind in his left eye. How did this happen? What was Kylie doing? So many things raced through my head, but I knew I needed to get Noah to the Hospital right away.

We went to Emergency and they saw Noah very quickly. We were blessed to have a talented young Doctor to look Noah over. They determined that the dart didn’t actually hit the eye, but right beside the eye and there was only minor blunt force trauma to the eye. Noah was a trooper and stayed very still while the Doctor sewed multiple sutures millimetres away from his eye.Noah was very fortunate, but mere millimetres separated him from blindness in his left eye.

Noah hit by lawn dartSo what happened? How did Noah get in the path of the lawn dart? Well, Noah and his cousin were swinging back and forth on the swing set while Kylie was trying to get their attention. Kylie was anxious to show her cousin these new toys called lawn darts which she dug out of the shed. She decided that she would try to hit them with the darts while they were on the swing. Narrowly missing them on a few occasions the dart found its way to Noah’s eye. Of course Kylie felt terrible and to this day really doesn’t like the story to be repeated (I’m sure posting it on the internet shouldn’t be an issue). At five years of age she didn’t realize the true weight of the decision she made in throwing those darts. Her parents, me in particular, should have simply discarded these dangerous toys before there was even a situation to worry about. After all, that was the first thing I did when we returned from the hospital.

I’d like to say this is an isolated incident, but I have seen lawn darts at garage sales since then and people simply don’t take time to think about what impact a couple of dollars could make to the safety and well-being of their customers. Do you have toys or items that have been deemed unsafe that should be disposed of? Do so before someone gets hurt, help prevent an injury. Promoting a culture of safety at home will help your family to identify and respond to hazards before injuries occur.

The irony of the whole scenario is that, although we had intentions of playing croquet with our kids, we’ve only used the croquet set a couple of times. It continues to amaze me how some of those little insignificant decisions can have such a big impact in your life.

For more information on specific items that should be avoided please check out Canada Safety Council’s website.

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