Parents are being warned to stop using a number of child stair gates currently sold by major retailers in the UK after four models failed EU standard safety tests in Which? testing.
Out of 11 stair gates, four models failed to adhere to the EU standard when put to the test by the consumer champion – potentially putting at risk toddlers and small children whose families may already have them in their homes.
Failures found included dangerous gaps in the barrier that could lead to strangulation, as well as gates that dislodge or don’t close properly, putting infants at risk of falling down the stairs or getting into areas where they could hurt themselves.
One stair gate – the Summer Infant Retractable Safety Gate – failed multiple tests. Which? found that it was not able to maintain its height when a weight was placed on it and had gaps that a child could squeeze a leg through, as well as snagging protrusions that a toddler could catch their clothing on.
In a test designed to replicate what might happen if a child tried to squeeze under the gate, Which? found that its sample of the Fred Safety Screw Fit Wooden Gate had a gap at the bottom that was large enough to fit a special hip probe.
Gaps like this are dangerous because a space big enough to get a leg or hip through could result in a child getting trapped.
The BabyDan Avantgarde failed the impact test. This is an important part of the EU safety test, which checks whether a gate is strong enough to withstand a powerful impact that replicates a child kicking or shoving the gate by having a 10 kilogram weight banged at different points on the gate.
When fitted using its extensions, this stairgate moved from its initial position by more than 25mm – the maximum amount of movement permitted in the EU safety standard – when tested by Which?. This represents a risk that the gate could come loose or slip out of the doorway and give the child access to the stairs or another unsafe area.
The fourth gate to fail Which?’s safety testing was the Hauck Autoclose n’ Stop. During testing the auto-close system on the gate didn’t completely close it – the top of the gate shut, but the bottom latch failed to fully click in.
This means a child could potentially lever the gate open and get through, putting themselves in danger.
Parents who already own any of the stair gates that failed Which? testing should stop using them immediately. The consumer champion also believes that these products should be withdrawn from sale. Manufacturers must investigate why these gates failed the testing, with a view to recalling the products until a fix is established for the fault.
Since Which? shared its findings with the manufacturers involved, Fred Safety was the only brand to act, withdrawing the Screw Fit Wooden Gate from sale and looking to amend a spring within the gate mechanism, which it hopes will remove any future risk.
Last year, Argos recalled all but one of its Cuggl range after carrying out safety tests triggered by a Which? investigation which uncovered two potentially dangerous stair gates.
Which? found that there were plenty of safe stair gates that did pass the stringent safety testing, including a good value option from John Lewis. The Extending Wooden Safety Gate, at £29, can fit in most doorways by being minimised or extended by pulling the two pieces towards each other, or further apart.
The Lindam Sure Shut Porte at £44 is a good option for renters who may not want to drill holes in the wall as it is a pressure-fit gate that uses wall cups and adhesive pads.
The Baby Dan No Trip Metal, £23, presented no safety issues when tested by Which?. It opens in either direction and can be unlocked and opened with only one hand, a popular feature with stair gates, as it means parents can walk through while carrying something in their other hand (or arms) such as a baby or a cup of tea.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:
“It beggars belief that these products made to give parents peace of mind and keep children safe may actually be putting them in harm’s way.
“Manufacturers need to act to urgently prevent any more children from being put at risk by products which may be unsafe and retailers should take any potentially dangerous items off sale immediately.”
Tests failed by each of the four child safety gates
Summer Infant Retractable:
Snagging and Protruding parts test
Protective Height test
Baby Dan Avantgarde (with extensions):
Impact resistance test
Fred Safety Screw Fit Wooden Gate:
Hauck Autoclose n’ Stop:
Opening and closing systems test
Right of Replies
Summer Infant says:
“No caregiver has ever reported an incident or injury involving the Summer Infant Retractable Gate, Item# 27256. While in production, the gate was periodically submitted to a third party laboratory to confirm compliance with applicable safety standards, including BS EN 1930:2011. The company stopped producing this item in 2019, and we have no plans to make more. We diligently review our products to make sure they meet applicable standards.”
Fred Safety says:
“Which? testing has identified a way in which the Fred Wooden Screw Fit Gate could be installed incorrectly. We are confident that this is a very rare eventuality. Fred Safety is committed to providing the very highest levels of safety and we have withdrawn the product from sale while we make a minor modification. If any customers have concerns, they should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“The safety gate mentioned in “Which” has been tested recently by TÜV Süd in Germany and Bureau Veritas in the UK numerous times without any remarks. Both of these two test laboratories have great experience with testing safety gates, and the safety gate has always passed the European standard for safety barriers (EN 1930). “Which” have received these test reports for their perusal.
“To prove our point Baby Dan has immediately sent the safety gate in question (without extensions and with 2 extensions) for new testing – this time SGS – and we have just received verbal confirmation that the safety gate complies to the European Standard. “Which” will shortly receive this test report as well.”
“Hauck UK Ltd do not accept the findings of ‘Which?’ that their Autoclose N Stop safety barrier is unsafe when fitted and used correctly.
“We provide a Test Certificate and Test Report from TUV which was issued in November 2019 where it can be shown that the product passes the required standard when fitted correctly.
“After our own internal investigation on safety barriers from the same batch today, we cannot find that the safety barrier would be unsafe if used and fitted according to the instructions. To get the best result installing a safety barrier some preciseness and fine-tuning is needed. A final function check is essential.”