CPSC Offers Back to School Safety TipsLook for Hidden Hazards to Prevent Injuries and Deaths

March 28, 2003
Release Number: 99156

Originally issued August 11, 1999, Revised March 28, 2003

Note: The safety recommendations in this document regarding window cord hazards have been superceded by more recent advice. See Children Can Strangle in Window Covering Cords -- html or pdf

As millions of children head back to school, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is helping parents, teachers, and caregivers look for hidden hazards to help prevent injuries and deaths to children. CPSC's "Back to School Safety Checklist" (also available in text only format) offers tips on making schools, child care facilities and playgrounds safer.

"Take a few minutes to check your child's school, childcare facility and playground for hidden hazards we don't always think about during this busy time of year," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "Use our free checklist to make sure your children head back to school safely."

The free "Back to School Safety Checklist" is available here (or text only) or by sending a postcard to CPSC, Washington DC 20207. Hidden hazards include the following:

- Playgrounds - Check the surfaces around playground equipment. There should be a 12-inch depth of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or there should be mats made of safety-tested rubber or fiber material to prevent head injury when a child falls. Each year, more than 200,000 children are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for playground-associated injuries. Most of these injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment.

- Drawstrings on Jackets and Sweatshirts - Remove drawstrings on hoods or around the neck. Cut drawstrings at the waist or bottom of jackets and sweatshirts to 3 inches. Since 1985, 22 children have died when drawstrings caught on school buses, playground equipment and other products.

- Loops on Window Blind Cords - If the windows in your home, childcare facilities or schools have blinds, cut the loop on two-corded horizontal blinds, and attach separate tassels to prevent entanglement and strangulation in window blind cords. Vertical blinds, continuous loop systems and drapery cords use looped cords to function. Do not cut these loops. Instead, install a permanent tie-down device. To obtain free tassels and tie down devices call (800) 506-4636. About one child a month dies from strangulation with window covering cords.

- Bike Helmets - Since a growing number of kids are riding their bikes to school, make sure they always wear their helmet. All bike helmets manufactured or imported for sale in the United States are required to meet the new federal safety standard set by CPSC. Each year, more than 200 children are killed in bicycle-related incidents, and about 60 percent of these deaths involve a head injury. Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.

- Soccer Goals - Anchor soccer goals into the ground to prevent them from tipping over and crushing a child. Since 1979, CPSC has received reports of 24 deaths from soccer goal tipover.

- Recalled Products - You and your kids can get up-to-date recall and product safety information by checking out CPSC's web site on your home or school computer. Sign up to get free recall notices by FAX, e-mail or regular mailing by calling CPSC's hotline or writing to CPSC, Washington, D.C. 20207.

Various CPSC publications contain valuable information regarding the safety of children as they go to and from school or while they are at play. CPSC is providing a list of these publications as part of supporting the Department of Education in its "America Goes Back to School: Challenge Our Students and They Will Soar" program. Better education of our nation's youth starts with children who are healthy and safe.