Trying to track recalled products and foods that might be harmful to children is a nightmare for parents because there has been no single place to look.
ClickCheckandProtect.org, a new Consumer Reports companion website, is the product of a newly formed National School Safety Coalition convened by Consumer Reports, the National Parent Teacher Association and the National School Boards Association.
"The whole idea is to get the information into the homes of school-age children," said Don Mays, senior director of safety for Consumer Reports.
The hope is not only to encourage parents to check the site but also to have its new information distributed by weekly school newsletters sent to children's homes -- anything to make it easier for parents to learn about recalls, he said.
The coalition will distribute safety alerts and recall notices on such children's products as toys, food, medicines and furniture.
Recalls by manufacturers are difficult to track, not only because there are so many, but also because different regulators handle different recalls. For example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announces recalls for products; the Food and Drug Administration for food and medications; and the Department of Agriculture for meat.
A poll by Consumer Reports showed Americans believe it is important to know about product recalls, but they are not confident that they are getting adequate information. More than half of Americans said they never or rarely filled out the registration cards that come with products. Those registrations are used to notify consumers directly of recalls.
"A child shouldn't be put at risk of injury or death simply because the information on recalled products didn't get to schools, caregivers and parents," said Jim Guest, president of Consumer Reports.
In March, the CPSC will launch SafeProducts.gov, which will host a dangerous-products database.
Here are some places consumers can look online for product safety information:
*ClickCheckandProtect.org: A Web clearinghouse for recalls and safety alerts.
*CPSC.gov: Provides e-mail alerts about product recalls.
*Text alerts: Text the word "SAFE" to 76666 to have recall and safety alerts delivered to your phone.
*SafeProducts.gov: Site will allow consumers to file and review reports of dangerous products.