WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 50 million children are headed back to school this fall and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents to pay special attention to safety this school year.
Whether it's wearing a helmet while they ride their bikes, watching out for dangerous drawstrings in children's jackets, or checking the safety of school soccer goals, CPSC has important safety tips that can keep children from being sidelined with injuries.
Wear a bicycle helmet when biking or riding a scooter to and from school. Make sure your child's bicycle helmet has a label stating it meets CPSC's mandatory safety standard. Wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
CPSC staff has reports of an annual average of 80 children under 16 years of age who died in bicycle-related incidents in recent years. About half of the 500,000 bicycle-related emergency room-treated injuries in 2007 involved children under the age of 16. When taking part in other recreational activities, wear the right helmet for that activity. Read CPSC's "Which Helmet for Which Activity" publication, which helps parents choose the most appropriate helmet, at http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/349.pdf (pdf).
More than 80 percent of the nearly 50,000 emergency room-treated injuries involving unpowered scooters in 2007 were to children younger than 15. In addition to wearing a helmet, CPSC recommends elbow and knee pads when riding a scooter.
Avoid Children's Clothing with Drawstrings
Drawstrings at the hood or neck area are a strangulation hazard. They can catch on playground equipment and other items. Remove hood and neck drawstrings from upper outerwear clothing already in your child's closet, and do not buy children's clothing that uses them.
Since 1985, CPSC received reports of 27 deaths and 70 non-fatal incidents involving the entanglement of children's clothing drawstrings.
Movable Soccer Goals
Unsecured movable soccer goals can fall over and kill or injure children who climb on them or hang from the crossbar. Make sure soccer goals are securely anchored when in use. Never allow children to climb on the soccer net or goal framework. When not in use, anchor goals or chain them to a nearby fence post or sturdy framework. Since 1998, CPSC has reports of at least 7 deaths and an estimated 1800 emergency department visits by children younger than 16 years of age that are related to soccer goal tip-overs and structural failures. For more information on soccer goal safety, visit http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5118.html
Each year, more than 200,000 hospital emergency room visits are related to playground injuries. Most injuries occur when a child falls onto the playground surface.
Check with school officials to make sure that equipment has been inspected and maintained. There should be at least nine inches of safe, shock absorbing surface material, and proper clearance around the equipment. Make sure exposed hardware or free-hanging ropes are not part of the equipment. Ropes and clothing catching on exposed hardware can be strangulation hazards. Elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, should have guardrails to prevent falls.
School officials should be aware that shading at the playground with trees or other structures is an important consideration to reduce children's exposure to the sun. Schools should also be aware that hot sun can make playground slides and black rubber matting burn hazards for children.
Listen to CPSC's podcast on playground safety at http://www.cpsc.gov/mp3.html
Do not allow children to ride all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to school due to the danger of riding on paved surfaces and never allow children to ride adult ATVs. For more information on ATV safety, visit www.atvsafety.gov
Keep on top of recalled products. Sign up to receive e-mail alerts of just the CPSC recall announcements that you care about by going to www.cpsc.gov, or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 to hear about recalled products. If you have a recalled product, take it away from your child immediately and contact the firm for the repair, replacement or refund.
You can see all recalls related to youth at Product Recall Information at Kids' Turn Central.