With the start of the school year here, now is a busy time for American consumers. Many of you will soon be heading to the stores to purchase everything from pencils and new outfits to college dorm supplies. While sending children back to school is often an exciting and overwhelming experience, it is also a great time to highlight some key information that Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has developed to help protect consumers especially around this time of year. I encourage everyone to take a look at the CPSC’s Back to School Safety Checklist.
It is always fun to go shopping for new clothes at the beginning of a new school year. Kids get bigger, styles change, and everyone is excited about a new “back-to-school” wardrobe. An often overlooked danger is drawstrings in children’s clothing and outwear. Drawstrings can catch on items such as playground equipment or vehicle doors. CPSC has received at least 26 reports of children who have died when drawstrings in their clothes got tangled on playground slides, school bus doors and other objects. The CPSC has issued guidelines on drawstrings which have been incorporated into an industry voluntary standard. Since the clothing industry started following the voluntary standard, deaths involving neck or hood drawstrings decreased by 75% and there have been no deaths associated with waist or bottom drawstrings.
Still, we continue to see jackets, sweatshirts, and sweaters made with dangerous drawstrings that must be recalled. Recent recalled products with drawstrings are listed here. Please remember to check your child’s upper outerwear for dangerous drawstrings.
Be aware of the latest recalls before you head out to buy back-to-school supplies and products. You may always check whether any product has been recalled at www.Recall.gov and for consumer products at http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/. Whether it is your kid’s bicycle, toddlers’ art supplies, or your college student’s mattress, please check our site to ensure you are not buying or borrowing unsafe recalled products!
One of the biggest problems we have is ensuring that recalled products are actually returned or destroyed. For example, earlier this year a Kids In Danger study reported that
- 25% of the products recalled by the CPSC in 2014 were children’s products and
- clothing recalls made up the largest children’s product category this year.
It further states that “[t]here was however only small progress toward getting recalled products out of homes. Eighty percent of recalled products are unaccounted for – many still in use. And while more manufacturers are using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to reach consumers with recall news, it is still a minority.”
For a copy of the full Report visit: http://www.kidsindanger.org/docs/research/2015_KID_Recall_Report.pdf
Finally, if during the frenzy of back-to-school shopping you end up with any products that seem defective or hazardous, please report them immediately to the CPSC at www.SaferProducts.gov. I have written before about how important data on incidents, injuries and deaths related to consumer products are for the CPSC to do its job. Every time you report such an incident to us through www.SaferProducts.gov or our hotline at (800) 638-2772; (TTY) (301) 595-7054, you have helped to make consumers just a little bit safer. For more information about the CPSC’s data and reporting to us please see here and here.
I wish everyone a safe, happy and intellectually adventuresome new school year! Learning is a life-long endeavor and I hope the many areas in which you and yours learn this year will greatly enrich your lives.
I hope to keep these conversations going on Twitter. Follow me @RobinsonCPSC and let me know your thoughts on consumer-product safety and how your back-to-school shopping is going!
We can all work together to ensure safety when it comes to consumer products – let’s do this together!