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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Put Safety First Before Opening a Window

As temperatures go up, so do windows in many homes. Opening windows in your home to enjoy the warmer temperatures may seem harmless, but open windows have proven to be sources of injury and death for young children.

This week, CPSC joins the National Safety Council in recognizing National Window Safety Week and urges parents and caregivers to be aware of the dangers of leaving windows open when young children are present.

According to CPSC data, falls from windows result in an average of about eight deaths yearly to children five years or younger, while an estimated 3,300 children ages five and younger are treated each year in U.S. hospital emergency departments. On average, one of every three children, about 34 percent, required hospitalization after falling from a window.

So, watch this video. And take five minutes to prevent a window fall in your home.

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/2011/04/put-safety-first-before-opening-a-window/

Brrrrr! Stay Safe in These Cold Months

house fireCPSC estimates that home heating was associated with about 33,300 fires and 180 fire deaths per year from 2005 to 2007. Cooking and home heating are the leading causes of residential building fires during winter.

In addition, there has been an increasing trend in unintentional non-fire CO deaths associated with consumer products since 1999. CPSC staff estimates that there were 184 CO poisoning deaths on average per year from from 2005-2007 compared with 122 deaths per year from 1999-2001. Since 1999, the majority of CO deaths have been associated with heating systems and portable generators.

CPSC, along with USFA, recommend that, in addition to having working smoke and CO alarms in your homes, you should follow these safety tips to prevent fires and CO poisoning:

Preventing Fires

  • Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets. Keep the heater at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable materials; and place space heaters out of the flow of foot traffic. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person. Turn the heater off when you leave the area. See CPSC’s electric space heater safety alert for more space heater safety tips.
  • Never use gasoline in a kerosene space heater. Even small amounts of gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of a fire.
  • Have fireplace flues and chimneys inspected for leakage and blockage from creosote or debris every year.
  • Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire, and keep it open until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent build-up of poisonous gases inside the home.
  • Store fireplace ashes in a fire-resistant container, and cover the container with a lid. Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles. Dispose of ashes carefully, keeping them away from dry leaves, trash or other combustible materials.

Preventing CO poisoning

  • Schedule a yearly professional inspection of all fuel-burning home heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves, water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.
  • NEVER operate a portable gasoline-powered generator in an enclosed space, such as a garage, shed, or crawlspace, or in the home.
  • Keep portable generators as far away from your home and your neighbors’ homes as possible – away from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon monoxide into the home.
  • When purchasing a space heater, ask the salesperson whether the heater has been safety-certified. A certified heater will have a safety certification mark. These heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features. An unvented gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if oxygen levels fall too low.
  • Do not use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined space, unless they are designed specifically for indoor use. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use.
  • Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. They are not intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.
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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2011/01/brrrrr-stay-safe-in-these-cold-months/

Kids and Cords Don’t Mix

Window Cord Hazard

simulation of a window cord hazard

Sadly, a young child is likely to die this month, strangled by a window covering cord. The question is: Could that corded window covering be in your house?

The stories we’re about to tell you are tragic, and they are all too real. Both incidents happened earlier this year. Read the stories below, and then look at EVERY window covering in your house. If you have young children around and you see accessible cords ANYWHERE on your window coverings, take heed.

CPSC recommends that you use cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit. Cordless window coverings are the safest solution.

If buying new, cordless window coverings is not an option for you, contact the Window Covering Safety Council at www.windowcoverings.org to obtain a free repair kit and install it properly to make your window coverings safer. Some, but not all, of the repair kits will make your window coverings cordless. After you install a repair kit, check your window coverings again for accessible cords.

A little boy and a Roman shade

Four years ago, a mom and dad installed corded Roman shades in their first son’s bedroom. Over time, the family grew, with the first son becoming the oldest of four children. The youngest children included a 22-month-old boy and a newborn baby girl.

tangled window covering cord

A 22-month-old boy strangled on this tangled outer cord.

Mom and dad regularly tried to tie the hanging window covering cords up so that they did not hang down, using a bracket that had been provided for each shade.

One day, the 22-month-old was playing in his older brother’s room. Dad left him playing for about 10 minutes. When Dad returned, he found his little boy standing with both feet on the ground and the Roman shade cord hanging around his neck. The cord was tangled at the end and created a noose around the boy’s neck. Ten days later, the boy died in a hospital. His cause of death: accidental strangulation.

She liked to look out her window at the kids at a nearby child care center

A nearly 4-year-old girl spent her morning playing and watching a movie in her bedroom. The girl liked to look out her window at children arriving and departing from a nearby child care center. This is what her mother thinks she was trying to do on her last morning alive.

The girl’s mother was making lunch around noon. Between 5 and 15 minutes after the girl was last seen, her 6-year-old brother went up to the bedroom that the two shared. He found his sister hanging from the horizontal window blind’s operating cords. The girl’s father didn’t have an easy way to get the cords off his daughter’s neck. While holding her, the dad chewed the cords free. The girl was pronounced dead upon her arrival at the hospital.

* * *

In the past year, CPSC has announced the voluntary recall of more than 50 million Roman shades and roll-up blinds made and sold by many different companies. In addition, in 1994 and in 2000, CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council announced recalls to repair horizontal blinds to prevent strangulation hazards posed by pull cord and inner cord loops.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum is urging the window covering manufacturers to stay on track in creating a comprehensive set of safety standards next year. The chairman has called for these standards to design out the risk of strangulation in their products.

Still, it’s imperative that each and every one of us make the window coverings in our homes safe for our families. Here’s how:

  • Examine all shades and blinds in your home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. CPSC recommends the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit.
  • Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture close to the windows because children can climb on them and gain access to the cords.
  • Make loose cords inaccessible.
  • If the window covering has looped bead chains or nylon cords, install tension devices to keep the cord taut.
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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/12/kids-and-cords-don%e2%80%99t-mix/

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/

How to Childproof Your Windows

Do you have young children in your home? If so, be sure to child-proof your windows before letting the warm spring air waft through your house. Such measures are like installing baby gates – they keep your baby safe with little extra effort.

Window falls are common, particularly in spring and summer. And they are preventable. Just take a look at these news reports from the first few days of April:

Pennsylvania boy, age 3, falls from a window and sustains head injuries.

Oklahoma 5-year-old falls from second-story window. His condition is unknown.

5-year-old Omaha girl survives 2-story fall with only bumps and bruises

Grand Rapids boy, age 2, survives fall from 2nd story window with minor injuries.

This week, by the way, is the National Safety Council’s National Window Safety week. But a week of such reports is not unusual. On average each year, 9 children die and about 3,700 are injured from window falls.

CPSC recommends the following ways to child-proof your windows and prevent your children from having a serious fall:

Window Guard

Window guards screw into the side of a window frame and have bars no more than 4 inches apart.

      • Install window guards to prevent children from falling out of windows. For windows on the 6th floor and below, install window guards that adults and older children can open easily in case of a fire.

Window guards screw into the side of a window frame and have bars no more than 4 inches apart. They are sold in different sizes for various size windows and adjust for width. Guards must meet requirements for spacing and strength. Those that allow for escape in case of emergencies must be difficult for very young children to open.

• If you don’t use window guards, install and use window stops so that windows open no more than 4 inches. Whether opening windows from the bottom, top, or side, openings should never exceed 4 inches with children present.

• Move furniture, including cribs and beds, away from windows to discourage children from climbing near windows. Use extra caution on windows next to window seats where children may climb and play.

• Bug screens are NOT baby gates. They keep bugs out, but they are not strong enough to keep toddlers in. Do not rely on them to keep your windows child-safe.

• Whenever possible, open windows from the top, not the bottom.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/04/how-to-child-proof-your-windows/