Parents are being urged to check the safety of their stair gates after three brands failed safety testing in an investigation.
Which? tested a range of stair gates sold on the high street and found three of them – the Dreambaby Retractable Gate, the Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe Safety Gate and the Safetots Self-closing gate (when fitted with adhesive pads) – failed to meet the criteria for the fatigue test.
This test forms part of the EU safety standard for safety barriers, and involves a horizontal force being applied 10,000 times to the top middle of the barrier to see if it breaks.
“Because of these failures, we’ve made all three of these stair gates ’Don’t Buys’ with a 0% test score,” the Which? experts said. “Due to the severity of the failures for the Dreambaby gate, we’re calling for the manufacturer to withdraw it from sale immediately, and issue a recall for any that have been sold. If you own this gate, we recommend you stop using it immediately.”
Which? has reported the findings to Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).
The fatigue test is important because it is designed to replicate the actions of children using a stair gate, which is meant to prevent them from going up or down a staircase, or into a room they shouldn’t be going into. If the gate fails during this test, it could mean a child putting themselves in danger, too.
Which? states a good stair gate will be easy to set up and install, simple to use and convenient for parents.
Things to consider when buying a stair gate, according to Which?
:: A wooden or metal stair gate that is side-opening will need quite a bit of room to swing open into, so you need to think about whether this will cause any obstructions, or be awkward to navigate around.
:: A retracting or concertina stair gate could be the answer for areas with restricted space or if you want the gate to disappear when not in use.
:: Stair gates at the top of the stairs should open towards you, not towards the flight of stairs, as you could fall forwards while opening the gate. You should only use screw-fit gates at the top of the stairs.
:: How easy is it to open and close the stair gate? You don’t want your toddler to be able to flick the mechanism open with ease but, at the same time, you may also need to be able to open and close the gate with a wriggling child under one arm. Some stair gates automatically close.
See here for the stair gates which came out as the “best buys” from the review site.
Manufacturers reply to Which?
Which? stated Safetots has not yet provided an official reply, but it disputed their findings. “It told us that the gate has been exhaustively tested in China and the UK, and has successfully satisfied the selected requirements of BS EN 1930:2011. This is the same standard that we test to.”
Munchkin, the company that owns Lindam, told them it is not aware of any evidence supporting the allegations. Munchkin said it has reviewed and analysed customer complaints for the gate and not encountered any of the purported safety or reliability issues that they have alleged.
Dreambaby told Which?: “Complaints relating to the quality of our products are rare but when received they are investigated immediately. However, our ability to undertake a thorough investigation of the matters raised have been significantly frustrated by the failure of Which? to provide sufficient background detail despite our repeated requests for this information. We are therefore unable to provide a considered response at this time.”