CPSC Urges Parents to Help Children Avoid Injuries As They Head Back to School

August 15, 2007
Release Number: 07277

Your kids may already know their ABCs, but do you know the ABCs of keeping your children safe as they head back to school? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents to put safety at the top of their lists of things to do and to pay special attention to helmets, art materials, and back-to-school clothing this fall.

Parents and school officials should also look for hidden hazards on playgrounds and on soccer fields that could sideline children with injuries or may even be deadly.

CPSC offers the following ABCs of back-to-school safety:

A    Always wear the right helmet for the activity.

Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of a head injury and can save your child’s life. Bicycle helmets, for instance, can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.

There are different helmets for different activities. Each type of helmet is made to protect the head from the impacts that are common to a particular sport or activity. For the best protection, make sure your child wears the right helmet whether it’s for biking, football or baseball.

Fit is important. A helmet should be comfortable and snug, level on the head and securely buckled so it doesn’t move or fall off during a fall or collision.

For more information on helmet safety, go to CPSC’s publication “Which Helmet for Which Activity” at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/349.pdf

B    Be safe on the playground and on the soccer field.

Hidden hazards can lurk on the playground or sports field. More than 200,000 children each year visit hospital emergency rooms due to injuries received on playgrounds.

To prevent the most common type of playground injury -- a child falling from equipment -- make sure there is at least a nine inch layer of shock absorbing surface material made of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or safety-tested rubber or fiber material mats underneath and around playground equipment.

Cover exposed hardware that can catch clothing, and remove any free-hanging ropes. Both are strangulation hazards.

On the soccer field, work with your school to ensure portable soccer goals are securely anchored when in use. Movable soccer goals can fall over and kill or injure children who climb on them or hang from the crossbar. Since 1979, CPSC has reports of at least 28 deaths associated with soccer goals.

C    Care with clothing and art materials.

Don’t buy jackets or sweatshirts, or any upper outerwear for children, if they have hood or neck drawstrings. Remove drawstrings from hoods or around the necks of jackets and sweatshirts in your children’s closets. Drawstrings pose a strangulation hazard because they can get caught on playground equipment or other products. Over the past 20 years, CPSC has received reports of 23 deaths and 64 non-fatal incidents involving the entanglement of children’s clothing drawstrings.

Art should be fun, not dangerous. Make sure any new art materials you buy or that your school uses contain the statement, “CONFORMS TO ASTM D-4236.” Check older art materials to see if they’ve been recalled at www.cpsc.gov

For more information on back-to-school safety, go to CPSC’s “Back to School Safety Checklist,” at www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/btsimage.html