Q&A: Are there new safety guidelines for mattresses?

Consumer Reports News: June 27, 2007 04:53 PM

My local newspaper recently ran a story about new fire-safety standards for mattresses. Since we need to buy new mattresses for our 7-year-old twins, what should we look for when we shop?—L. Solomon, via e-mail

The fire-safety standard you’re referring to goes into effect on July 1, 2007. Known as 16 CFR Part 1633, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s new standard addresses mattress fires ignited by open-flame sources, like burning candles.

To ensure you buy mattresses that meet the new standard, look for the permanent label (sample shown) that must be on all mattresses made, imported, or renovated after July 1. Note that even after that date, you’ll still find mattresses in retail stores that don’t meet the new guidelines, because there is no cutoff date for sales of older mattresses.

As we noted in “New mattress-flammability standard to go into effect” on ConsumerReports.org, the new policy is intended to limit the size of mattress fires "by reducing the heat release from the bed, specifically the mattress and foundation, and by reducing the likelihood that other objects in the room will become involved in the fire," according to the CPSC. The new standard will prevent 78 percent of mattress-fire-related deaths, saving 270 lives each year, and avert 1,330 injuries annually, the CPSC estimates.

The CPSC standard applies to mattresses and mattress sets, including youth mattresses, crib mattresses and portable crib mattresses, bunk-bed mattresses, futons, flip chairs without a permanent back or arms, sleeper chairs, water beds and air mattresses if they contain upholstery material between the ticking and the mattress core. Mattresses used in upholstered furniture, say in a convertible sofa bed, are also covered by the standard.Steven H. Saltzman

Essential information: To learn about our concerns over a group of fire retardants commonly used in mattresses and other products, read “How to fireproof our furniture, not the whole planet” on the Consumer Reports On Safety blog. Before you shop, watch our video buying advice and read our latest report on mattresses and buyer’s guide to mattress toppers (both available to subscribers). And don’t miss these tips for getting a good night’s sleep.


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