With this year's back to school season in full swing, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents, teachers and school administrators to help prevent unnecessary injuries this fall by conducting a series of safety checks to identify hidden hazards in and around schools.
CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton says that taking a few, simple steps, such as conducting safety checks on school playgrounds, athletic fields, and inside the classroom can help prevent children from serious injuries during the school year. Parents should also make sure that children riding bicycles or scooters to and from school always wear a helmet and other appropriate safety gear.
"Parents, teachers and school administrators each play a major role in promoting back-to-school safety," he said. "Conducting school safety checks for hidden hazards will go a long way towards keeping kids in the classroom and out of the emergency room."
The CPSC is providing the following back-to-school safety tips to help prevent injuries this fall:
GETTING TO SCHOOL SAFELY
Bicycle Helmets: 56 percent of last year's nearly 535,000 bicycle-related injuries involved children.
- About 800 people, including about 200 children, died in a recent year in bicycle-related incidents.
- Make sure children ALWAYS wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bike or scooter, and use other appropriate safety gear such as elbow pads and knee pads.
- Look for a label or sticker on the helmet indicating it meets the CPSC standard. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent.
- Be aware of local laws pertaining to the use of scooters. Many cities and communities have specific areas where scooters are permissible; whereas other communities prohibit entirely the riding of pocket bikes or motorized scooters.SAFETY ON PLAYGROUNDS AND ATHLETIC FIELDS
Playgrounds: each year, more than 200,000 children are taken to hospital emergency rooms due to playground-related injuries. Most injuries occur when a child falls onto the playground surface.
- Check with your child's school to make sure there is at least nine inches of safe, shock absorbing surface material, consisting of wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber or fiber material.
- Make sure there is no exposed hardware to catch clothing and no free-hanging ropes attached to the equipment.Soccer Goals: 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.
- 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.SAFETY WITHIN SCHOOLS
Art Supplies: CPSC has recalled a variety of art materials over the years due to sharp tools; accessible lead in crayons, chalk and paint; and other hazards.
- For elementary school age children only buy art materials that do not contain any hazard warnings and are labeled, "CONFORMS TO ASTM D-4236."
Parents should talk to school officials to make sure the school's equipment complies with all federal, state and local standards and requirements.
In addition, CPSC urges parents and schools to check for recalled children's products by visiting www.cpsc.gov or www.recalls.gov
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.
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