OnSafety is the Official Blog Site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here you'll find the latest safety information as well as important messages that will keep you and your family safe. We hope you'll visit often!

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A Safe Babywearing Experience

For many parents, babywearing promotes a positive bond between parent and child.

The key for any mom, dad, or caregiver who wears their baby is education. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. We at CPSC want babywearers caring for infants younger than 4 months old to keep this in mind.

Babywearers should place their baby’s face at or above the rim of a sling or wrap so that their face is visible.

When babies are placed with their faces below the rim of a sling, they are not able to lift their heads to breathe. This can lead to the following two hazardous situations:

  • One risk occurs when a baby’s head is turned toward the adult. An infant’s nose and mouth can be pressed against the baby wearer and become blocked, preventing the baby from breathing. Suffocation can happen quickly, within a minute or two.
  • When a baby lies in a sling, the fabric can push the baby’s head forward to its chest. Infants can’t lift their heads and free themselves to breathe. This curled, chin-to-chest position can partially restrict a baby’s airways, causing a baby to lose consciousness. The baby cannot cry out for help.

In addition, CPSC urges parents of infants younger than four months of age, premature or low birth-weight babies and babies with colds and respiratory problems to use extra caution and consult their pediatricians about using slings.

All of this information is consistent with what CPSC shared with parents in March. So, why raise this again?

Every day, new babies are born and new moms, dads, and caregivers may not be aware of the safety information we’ve given before. We want all new moms and dads who choose to wear their babies to know how to keep their babies safe.

Child safety experts at CPSC have looked at incidents and sadly found 14 reports of infants who suffocated and died in sling-style carriers during the past 20 years. To prevent any more deaths, CPSC staff urges parents to use extra caution with infants younger than 4 months old, premature, low birth-weight babies, and babies with colds and respiratory problems when using infant slings.

This warning is not intended to characterize all slings as being dangerous to babies. CPSC has identified (1) specific situations that can pose a risk of serious harm to babies, and (2) simple safety tips that we hope the babywearing community can share with new parents so that they have a safe, heart-to-heart bond while using an infant sling.

CPSC stands for safety, especially the safety of babies.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/11/a-safe-babywearing-experience/

Toy Recalls and Deaths Are Down, Injuries Are Up; Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s that time of year again. “ ’Tis the Season” for news stories about the top toys of the season and which toys are the most dangerous.

As the federal government’s consumer product safety agency, CPSC is not in the business of telling you what to buy. But we ARE all about helping you keep your families safe during the holidays. New CPSC statistics today reveal that while recalls and deaths are down, injuries related to toys have increased. Many of these injuries are associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider in this gift-giving season and beyond:

    1. Choose Age-Appropriate Toys: Look at the age recommendation on the toys you are choosing and match that recommendation to your child. Avoid toys with small parts for children younger than 3. Those small parts can cause a child to choke. For children under 6, avoid play sets or building toys with small magnets. A child can swallow those magnets, which can result in a serious injury or even death. Starting at a young age, teach your children not to put toys in their mouths.

    2. Gear Up: If sports-related gifts such as ride-on toys, bicycles, skates or scooters are on your gift list or around your house, make sure to include helmets that are sized to your child’s head and other appropriate safety gear. And then, make sure your child wears the gear properly EVERY time he or she uses the toy or sports equipment.

    3. Location, Location, Location: Be aware of your young child’s surroundings during play. Make sure you are watching your child around automobiles, swimming pools and ponds. Teach them to be cautious in those places. Even indoors, you need to keep a close eye on your young child around bathtubs, corded window coverings and in the kitchen.

    Those dangers don’t end when your child goes to a friend’s house. As your children get older, teach them where and how to skateboard or ride their bikes and scooters safely. Talk with them about not riding a friend’s ATV unless they are trained to ride it or on the dangers of magnets and small suction cup darts.

    4. Balloons: Throw away broken balloon pieces at once. And keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8. Those balloons are a choking hazard.

    5. Plastic Wrap: Keep a trash bag at your fingertips while your kids are opening their presents. That way, you can immediately throw away plastic wrappings and other toy packaging before they become dangerous play things. As an added bonus, it makes your cleanup faster, too.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/11/toy-recalls-and-deaths-are-down-injuries-are-up-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

Space Heater Safety

Early this month, 5 children tragically died in a house fire in Florida. The St. Petersburg Times and other local media have reported that a space heater may have sparked the fire.

CPSC staff extends our condolences to the families, friends, and communities affected by the fire.

Sadly, this tragedy is also a reminder to anyone who uses space heaters to keep the following safety dos and don’ts in mind:

Do’s:

  • Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards and has been certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. These heaters have the most up-to-date safety features. Older space heaters may not meet newer safety standards. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
  • Place the heater on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor.
  • Keep the heater at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • Turn the heater off if you leave the area.

Don’ts:

  • Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep.
  • Don’t place a space heater close to any sleeping person.
  • Never use gasoline in a kerosene space heater, as even small amounts of gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of fire.
  • Don’t use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space unless they are specifically designed for indoor use.

Also, be sure to place smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside of sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Guard against carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings as well by installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home. Make sure that your batteries in all alarms are fresh and working.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/11/space-heater-safety/

Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries

When you change your clocks this weekend, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, too.

To watch this video in Adobe Flash format, you may need to download the Adobe Flash player. You can also watch the video in Windows Media format.

(Read the transcript or watch in Windows Media format)

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/11/change-your-clocks-change-your-batteries-2/

A Lesson in Testing

CPSC scientists recently opened the agency’s lab to fifth graders from Capitol Hill Day School in Washington, D.C. The students spend the year studying China. As part of a school project, each student is identifying a testable question about a consumer product and designing a “fair test” to answer that question. They came to the CPSC Product Testing Laboratory to learn how to test whether something used in the home is hazardous.

An airplane? No, a cigarette lighterWhat’s this product? Students were surprised to learn that the airplane is really a cigarette lighter.

Testing elements in a productHow do you know the elements that are in a product? With chemical tests, CPSC scientists measure stimulated emissions similar to light and color. That tells the chemists how much lead, cadmium and other elements of interest are in the product.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/11/a-lesson-in-testing/