Everyone holding a garage sale is legally responsible for ensuring that products being sold, whether new or used, are safe and meet current regulatory requirements. It is important to only sell items that are in good condition. Damaged articles should be discarded.
Before selling a product at a garage sale, check with the manufacturer and Health Canada to see if it has been recalled and if the problem has been corrected. If it has been recalled and the problem has not been or cannot be corrected, do not sell the product. Destroy it so it cannot be used by anyone else, and throw it away.
To check for consumer product recalls posted by Health Canada: www.healthcanada.gc.ca/cps-recalls
The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) is administered by Health Canada. Its purpose is to protect the public by addressing and preventing dangers to human health or safety that are posed by consumer products in Canada.
The CCPSA and its regulations do not distinguish between new and used products. Any person who sells, distributes, or gives away consumer products that do not comply with the current regulatory requirements is breaking the law in Canada.
All cosmetics sold in Canada must meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act, the Cosmetic Regulations, and all other applicable legislation.
The Radiation Emitting Devices Act covers such items as microwave ovens, personal stereo systems, and personal tanning equipment. For second-hand radiation emitting devices to be sold, they must also meet current standards.
The next time you are planning to hold a garage sale, Think Safety!
The following is a partial list of products that are banned in Canada. It is illegal to sell or give them away. If you have any of these products in your possession, destroy and discard them so that they cannot be used.
- Baby walkers
- Infant self-feeding devices
- Jequirity beans or anything that is made with jequirity beans
- Lawn darts with elongated tips
- Polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA
The following is a partial list of products that must meet regulatory requirements under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act or the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic Regulations:
Baby gates that have diamond-shaped openings or "V" openings at the top larger than 38 mm (1 ½ in) are illegal to sell in Canada. A child's head can get caught in these openings and the child could strangle. Baby gates must come with information that identifies the manufacturer, model name or number, and the date of manufacture and information regarding instructions for use and installation.
Car seats must have a National Safety Mark and meet current regulatory requirements. Remember that it is illegal to sell car seats that do not meet the current regulatory requirements. You should always check with the manufacturer before selling a car seat. Car seats must come with warnings, guidelines for use, installation instructions, and date of manufacture. Do not sell a car seat that is past the lifespan recommended by the manufacturer or that has been in a vehicle during a collision. Before selling a used car seat, check with Transport Canada (1-800-333-0371 or www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety) for more information and to find out if the car seat has been recalled. Also, be sure that it is in good condition with no missing parts and with functioning anchoring systems.
Lead is a soft, heavy metal that is often used to make inexpensive jewellery. Lead is very toxic. A child can suffer from lead poisoning if they suck, chew, or swallow jewellery containing lead. Jewellery containing lead, which has a protective or decorative coating, is not safe since children can easily chew off the coating. It is illegal in Canada to sell children's jewellery that contains lead above the allowable limit, so if you are not sure whether a children's jewellery item contains lead, do not offer it for sale.
Do not sell loose-fitting children's sleepwear made of cotton, cotton blends or rayon as they burn more easily. Loose-fitting children's sleepwear includes nightgowns, bathrobes, and loose pyjamas. They should be made of polyester, nylon or polyester/nylon blends.
Tight-fitting children's sleepwear includes polo pyjamas and sleepers (with tight cuffs at the end of sleeves and pants legs, close fit to the body). They are less likely to make contact with a fire source and are likely to burn more slowly. They can be made from cotton, cotton blends or rayon.
Corded Window Coverings
Children can strangle on cords and bead chains of blinds and curtains. Looped cords and long pull cords can wrap around a child's neck and act like a noose. Reselling these products is not recommended because safety devices, warning labels, and instructions to keep pull cords out of the reach of children may be missing.
Used, old, or damaged cosmetics should never be sold. These products may contain harmful bacteria that could cause skin rashes or lead to infections. Additionally, second-hand cosmetics may be missing required labelling information, such as ingredients, warnings, and directions for safe use. A cosmetic is defined as any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth, including deodorants and perfumes.
Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets
It is illegal to sell cribs that do not meet the current regulatory requirements. Cribs manufactured before September 1986 likely do not meet these requirements and should therefore not be sold. Health Canada does not recommend using cribs older than 10 years as they are more likely to have broken, worn, loose or missing parts, and be missing warnings or instructions. Cribs, cradles and bassinets must come with information that identifies the manufacturer or importer, model name or number, date of manufacture, and assembly instructions. They must be in good condition, with no missing parts. It is also important that the mattress used fits snugly with a gap of no more than 3 cm (1 3/16 in) between the mattress and the crib, cradle or bassinet. The spacing between the bars should be no more than 6 cm (2 3/8 in). Cribs, cradles or bassinets with visible signs of damage, missing parts, or missing information should be destroyed. The side height of cradles and bassinets should be at least 23 cm (9 in). Cribs must have a side height of at least 66 cm (26 in) when the mattress support is in the lowest position. Crib corner posts must be no more than 3 mm (1/8 in) high. The mattress support must be firmly fixed to the end panels. Cribs that have a floating mattress support system with S or Z-shaped hooks are not safe and must not be sold.
Garden torches (i.e. Tiki torches) are composed of two parts: a shaft that is placed in the ground or mounted on the side of a deck which is usually made of wood (bamboo) or metal; and a metal fuel reservoir with a wick. The wick and the reservoir, containing kerosene, citronella or another liquid fuel, usually sit on top of the wood/metal shaft. Ingestion of these fuels can cause serious adverse health effects in children including death. Many of these products sold prior to 2008 did not meet Health Canada's regulatory requirements which set out specific labelling and packaging. It is illegal to sell garden torches missing the required labelling or packaging.
Ice Hockey Helmets and Face Protectors
Ice hockey helmets and face protectors sold in Canada must carry a sticker indicating they meet safety standards set by the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) and clearly showing the standard number. If the standard number is not present, discard the product. Ice hockey helmets must also have a chin strap and a label with the date of manufacture. These items must not be sold if previously subjected to major impact, if older than five years, if showing signs of damage, or if parts are missing. Be careful as damage done to helmets is not always visible. If you are unsure of a helmet condition, it is better not to sell it.
Do not sell playpens that have protruding bolts or torn vinyl or mesh. Playpen mesh must be small mesh, such as mosquito-type netting. Playpens must not have more than two wheels or casters or the ability to attach additional wheels. When selling a folding playpen, ensure that all locking mechanisms work and set-up instructions are included. Playpens must be accompanied by information that identifies the manufacturer or importer, model name or number, and the date of manufacture.
Strollers and carriages
Strollers and carriages made before 1985 should not be sold as they may not meet current regulatory requirements. Strollers must come with a lap belt and crotch strap that is solidly attached to the seat or frame. Ensure that the brakes, as well as the locking mechanisms on folding models, are in working order. Make sure that the wheels are securely attached. Strollers must be accompanied by information that identifies the manufacturer or importer, model name or number, and the date of manufacture.
Toys that are in poor repair, broken, have sharp edges or points, or plush toys with loose eyes or noses are not safe and should not be sold. Recently, there has been an increased number of recalls on toys with paint containing lead; check that toys have not been recalled before selling them.
Toys With Magnets
Check toys for loose magnets before selling them. Products with loose small powerful magnets should be kept safely out of the reach of children. Unlike traditional magnets,small powerful magnets, such as rare-earth magnets, have a very strong magnetic pull creating a unique safety concern. They are used in a wide range of items, from building toys to science kits or board games. Small powerful magnets that are loose or contained in a very small item are dangerous because they are easily swallowed. If more than one magnet is swallowed over a short period of time, they can attract one another through the intestines and create a blockage or slowly tear through the intestinal walls. The results can be fatal. Older children are known to play with these small powerful magnets in their mouths: using them for fake tongue or cheek piercings, attaching them to braces, etc. Teach children to keep powerful magnets away from their mouths.
Examples of other items that could pose a safety hazard:
Drawstrings on Children's Clothing
Drawstrings on children's clothing should be removed prior to sale. Drawstrings, especially on snowsuits, jackets and hooded sweatshirts, can become caught on playground equipment, fences or other objects.
Helmets (Other Than Hockey Helmets)
Helmets, such as bicycle, in-line skating helmets and equestrian riding helmets, are designed to protect the head against a single impact. It is not recommended to resell these products.
Before selling a used high chair, make sure it is in good condition and that there is a restraint system that consists of a crotch strap and a waist belt that is easy to fasten. All latching and locking mechanisms should be in good working order.
Infant Bath Seats and Bath Rings
These products are not safety devices. Many babies have died when they were left alone in a bath seat or bath ring, even for a short time. Reselling these products is not recommended because the suction cups or other means to attach the product to a tub can be ineffective. Reselling infant bath seats or bath rings can be especially dangerous because any warnings and/or instructions that could have alerted a caregiver of the serious drowning hazard related to these products may be out of date or missing entirely.
Common second-hand products that must meet safety requirements under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act:
Ensure that the microwave oven is in good working order and is accompanied with instructions for use. It is recommended not to sell a microwave oven with noticeable damage to the door or door hinges, as there may be excessive microwave leakage.
Personal Stereo Systems (for example
MP3 Players, Portable Media Players)
Instructions for safe use should accompany the device and there should be a functioning volume control enabling sound levels to be listened to safely without risk of hearing damage.
For more information, contact Consumer Product Safety, Health Canada:
www.healthycanadians.gc.ca and www.healthcanada.gc.ca/cps
To check for consumer product recalls posted by Health Canada: www.healthcanada.gc.ca/cps-recalls