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Lane Home Furnishings Seeks Public's Help Locating Older Cedar Chests

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Lane Home Furnishings is seeking the public's help in locating and making safer for children millions of cedar chests made between 1912 and 1987 in homes all across the country. Lane, based in Tupelo, Miss., manufactured the airtight chests under the "Lane" and "Virginia Maid" brand names, and estimated at one time the chests were located in one of every 17 American households. "We're focusing our search for these pre-1987 chests because we are offering owners a new, safer lock absolutely free-of-charge," said Marty Richmond, a spokesperson for Lane. "The older locks installed prior to 1987 automatically engage when the lid is closed. The new locks, which we've used on all our chests since 1987, must be locked by hand from outside the chest and are safer for children." The new locks or, if desired, a decorative plate with no locking mechanism, will be provided free-of-charge to Lane or Virginia Maid chest owners by calling toll-free 1-888-856-8758, or registering at Lane's web site, http://www.newlock.net. "A young child in Iowa recently suffocated in a similar chest after she apparently crawled inside and shut the lid. The chest was not made by Lane, but it makes clear the seriousness with which consumers should treat this type of situation," Richmond added. Richmond continued, "When the chests are used as intended -- protecting family heirlooms, blankets, quilts and other keepsakes -- there is no problem. Consumers like the airtight quality of the chests because it protects against moths, mildew and similar problems. After these chests have passed from generation-to-generation, they are sometimes being used as toy boxes or left empty in basements, garages and sheds. This is a potential danger because unsupervised children playing in a chest can close and lock the lid, making an airtight seal. The new, safer locks will help prevent a potential tragedy." The replacement locks are nearly identical to the old ones in appearance, and are easy to replace by removing the existing screws and installing the new lock and new screws. Lane will ship a new lock to consumers free-of-charge. Richmond said Lane started conducting its lock exchange program about ten years ago in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. At that time Lane estimated about 6.5 million or about half of the original 12 million chests still existed in bedrooms, attics, basements, dens and other rooms in houses throughout North America. Cedar chest owners have ordered more than 188,000 of the free locks since then. "We want to reach more people, but it's difficult to get consumers to act," Richmond said. "We want to try to reach as many owners as we can to replace the locks on their chests to make them safer for children. It's important for them to do it now."

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