An estimated 50 million children are returning to school this fall and, as always, safety should be number one in the minds of teachers, parents, children, and the public. Here are a few tips on children’s school-related products to help keep kids safe as school resumes:
Helmets are just as important – probably more so – for kids as for adults. Children should always wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bike or scooter to and from school. It’s also a good idea to check your child’s helmet for the label stating that it meets the minimum mandatory safety requirements of the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission). Statistics show that wearing a bicycle helmet is worth it – it can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
Clothing with Drawstrings
Drawstrings are a convenient way to keep your growing kids in their clothes a little longer, but drawstrings on the hood or neck area are a strangulation hazard. If caught on playground equipment or other items, drawstrings can be very hazardous. The solution is simple, however, and you don’t even need to buy a new wardrobe: just remove hood and neck drawstrings from upper outerwear clothing already in your child’s closet.
Read about a recent civil decision against the manufacturers of children’s clothes with drawstrings due to choking hazard.
Movable Soccer Goals
Too often, these structures are used more like jungle gyms than soccer goals. When unsecured (not anchored to the ground) movable soccer goals can fall over and potentially kill or injure children who climb on them or hang from the crossbar. Never allow kids to climb on a goal or soccer net, and be sure that soccer goals are securely anchored when in use. Chaining goals to a fence or other structure when not in use also helps minimize risk.
Each year, playground injuries create more than 200,000 hospital emergency room visits. Falls make up the vast majority of playground accidents. It is important to access information about or suggest changes regarding your child’s playground equipment by contacting school officials.
Regular inspection and maintenance of playground equipment is very important: check with school officials to make sure this has been done. Generally accepted safety standards call for:
- At least nine inches of safe, shock absorbing surface material, as well as proper clearance around the equipment.
- Equipment should not have any exposed hardware or free-hanging ropes, as these can create strangulation hazards (exposed hardware can catch children’s clothing).
- Being that, as mentioned above, falls make up the lion’s share of incidents on the playground, any elevated surfaces, platforms, or ramps should have guardrails.
- Finally, a less-obvious consideration is shading the playground area, which reduces children’s exposure to the sun and minimizes the burn hazard of metal slides and black mats during hot weather.