Safety Experts Say
Having Fun While Being Safe at the Playground
By Amy Hill
Associate Director, Injury Prevention and Research Center
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
There is nothing my first grader likes more after school than a visit to his school’s playground. He can play there for hours—sliding, climbing and playing “superheroes” with his classmates. As a mom, I know how important it is for him to play outside and burn off some after-school energy. As an injury prevention professional, I also know how important it is for him to be safe while doing so.
Playground injuries are all too common for children. Every year, nearly 220,000 children aged 14 and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. The most common cause of playground injuries is falls to the surface. The most serious injuries or deaths are caused by asphyxiation, possibly from a loose piece of clothing being caught on the equipment.
Here are some tips for keeping your child safe on the playground (click here to download and print a quick safety checklist):
- Supervise your child. Nothing can substitute for active adult supervision at the playground. Injuries can occur in a matter of seconds and if you’re talking with other parents, texting or reading, you will probably miss it or not be able to intervene in time.
- Make sure the playground has proper surfacing. Loose-fill surfacing like wood chips, rubber mulch and sand must be kept at the proper depth, generally at least 9 inches and regularly raked. Unitary rubber surfacing or tiles must be maintained. Playground equipment should never be placed over packed earth, grass or concrete.
- Age-appropriate equipment is important. Children are developmentally different in size and ability. Playgrounds are designed for children in two age groups, 2-5 years old and 5-12 years old. Playgrounds for preschoolers should offer lower platforms and slides and smaller handrails and steps. Playgrounds for school-aged kids are designed with taller platforms and slides with more physically challenging equipment.
- Watch your child’s clothing. Make sure there is nothing around their neck that can be caught on equipment, such as drawstrings, necklaces, scarves, purses or other loose clothing.
- Bike helmets and playgrounds don’t mix. It’s tempting to think that bicycle helmets might prevent a head injury from a playground fall, but they are actually a potential strangulation hazard. Since helmets are designed to stay on during a crash, the buckle doesn’t release and straps may get caught on equipment.
- Equipment and rubber surfacing can get very hot. Check the temperature of all equipment and rubber surfacing before letting your child play. Be sure your child is always wearing shoes at the playground to protect his or her feet from the hot surfacing.
- Be a playground maintenance advocate. If you see playground equipment that is broken or missing, don’t let your child play on it until it’s repaired. You should also be sure to report it to the playground’s owner like the park district or school.
My first grader looks forward to his after-school playground visits. As a mom, I love watching him learn, run and explore in a fun AND safe way, and know all parents and caregivers feel the same way about their own kids.
Amy Hill is the Associate Director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She is also the mom of two school-aged kids.
A Hidden Danger in Your Home
By Lisa Siefert
Founder & Executive Director, Shane’s Foundation
“Love you,” were the last words I heard from my son Shane. I closed the door to his room so he could take a nap. When I checked on my son later, my husband heard a sound that was unrecognizable — my screams. My baby’s dresser had fallen on him. Shane was only two years old when he died.
This story would be quite different if we had known the safety hazards associated with the dresser. Or better yet, if my son’s dresser/changing table had come with a strap to secure it. As we would later find out, some new furniture and TVs include a safety strap or anchor, but many items, even nursery and youth furnishings, do not.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that more than 38,000 injuries occur annually from TVs, furniture or appliances toppling over. These tip-over injuries also cause one child to die every two weeks.
Tip-overs are “one of the most dangerous hidden hazards in the home” according to the CPSC. Tragedies involving falling furniture or televisions are not uncommon, but they are preventable. Safety straps are inexpensive, simple to install and widely available at retailers, including Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us. Low cost anchoring devices are effective in preventing tip-over incidents, such as the one that took my son’s life.
In addition to securing the furniture and televisions in your own home, be mindful of anywhere your child spends time. Does your child spend time at their grandparents’ homes? Are they at daycare during the day? Express your concerns about tip-over safety to all of these people so they can properly secure their furniture – even short furniture, as it is just as dangerous as larger pieces. The changing table/dresser that took Shane’s life was only 35 inches tall.
To help prevent tip-over accidents, the CPSC recommends the following safety measures in homes where children live or visit:
- Televisions should only be placed on furniture designed to hold a television, such as television stands or media centers.
- Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or to furniture to prevent them from toppling over.
- Televisions that are not wall mounted should still be anchored to the wall.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to secure TVs and furniture properly.
- Existing furniture can be anchored with inexpensive anti-tip brackets. New furniture, such as dressers, are sold with anti-tip devices, which should be installed right away.
- Purchase anti-tip devices and install them according to manufacturer instructions. Always double check the attachment points to make sure the device is secure.
- Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.
March 14 is “Shane’s Day” – the day we lost my baby to this preventable accident. But for me, every day is Shane’s Day. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t think of him and wish that he was here with me.
By following these tips, you can prevent this tragedy from happening to your family.
Please visit www.ShanesFoundation.org for the latest tip-over safety information.
Choosing a Safe Car Seat
By Sarah Haverstick
Safety Advocate and Certified Car Seat Technician Instructor, Evenflo
There are so many options when you are searching for a car seat or booster seat for your child, it can certainly be overwhelming. I had the good fortune to become a car seat technician prior to even thinking about having children. When I had my first child, keeping her safe in the car was literally the only part of parenthood that wasn’t terrifying to me.
First and foremost, ensuring your child is in a car seat that meets current safety standards is paramount. Never purchase these products at garage sales or accept old or secondhand car seats from friends or family members, as they may contain potential hazards from wear and tear, unseen damage or missing parts. Always choose a reputable retailer such as Babies“R”Us, which offers a trade-in event where consumers can exchange old baby gear (like car seats) for savings on new items with the latest innovations, and features products that meet or exceed federal standards.
Next, it is important to consider best practice recommendations for your child’s age and size, as well as the manufacturer’s instructions, when determining the appropriate type of car seat or booster seat for your child.
Here are some other items to consider before making your purchase:
To be sold in the United States, car seats and booster seats must meet all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. However, some companies choose to test their car seats even further than required. Evenflo tests all of its car seats for structural integrity at energy levels that are approximately twice the federal crash test standard. Additionally, Evenflo engineers developed the Evenflo Side Impact test protocol, which simulates the energy in severe 5-star government side impact tests conducted for automobiles. Now, Evenflo is the first company in the U.S. to include dynamic rollover testing on select car seats and consumers can find this newest innovation in car seat safety – the SafeMax All-in-One Car Seat – at Babies“R”Us stores nationwide and Babiesrus.com.
Ease of Use
Look for innovative features that make it easier to place your child in the car seat. A no-rethread harness means you can easily adjust the harness without having to uninstall your car seat every time your child hits a growth spurt. There are also features that make it easier to install the car seat in your vehicle. Push-on lower anchor connectors are generally easier to use than the hook-style connectors. Some car seats also offer lock offs that can help with seat belt installations.
Let’s face it – kids of all ages know how to make big messes. Whether it’s from diapers or crumbs, your car seat is going to get dirty. Check out the washing instructions to determine what the requirements are for the car seat before you purchase. Some manufacturers will allow machine washing and drying – but many require air drying and some even require hand washing.
Children are likely to spend a lot of time traveling in their car seat, so their comfort is important. Visit your local Babies“R”Us to touch and feel the car seats. Put the car seat on the floor in the store and harness your child in the seat. If your child is older, give them some options and let them help make the decision with you.
When in doubt, ask!
There are more than 38,000 car seat technicians all across the U.S. ready to help you with selecting and using your car seat. Find a tech near you by visiting http://cert.safekids.org.
Also, car seat manufacturers are a great resource, as many companies have car seat technicians on staff. For example, here at Evenflo we have more than 35 technicians on our team! And, our ParentLink PREMIER service, available for the Evenflo SafeMax All-in-One Car Seat, provides consumers with access to expert customer service advice, including live video installation service with a certified car seat technician.
Top 5 Tips for Buying Fun, Safe Toys This Holiday Season
By Joan Lawrence
SVP, Standards and Regulatory Affairs, Toy Industry Association
Nothing is more priceless than the look on a child’s face when he or she opens up the gift of a toy during the holidays. That’s why parents and caregivers go to great lengths to find the perfect playthings for the kids on their shopping lists. And while it may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be! To help you pick out toys that are both fun and safe for the children in your life, I’ve put together my top tips to keep in mind before you get started on your holiday shopping:
Follow the age guidance and other safety information on toy packaging.
Did you know that a recent national survey found that less than a third of U.S. parents were using the age recommendation on a toy package to guide toy purchases? It may seem harmless, but giving a toy or game that doesn’t match a child’s age is not appropriate. The age grading isn’t about how smart a child is – it’s safety guidance based on the developmental skills and abilities of children at a given age, and the specific features of the toy, so it is important to follow the age recommendation.
Avoid toys with small parts for kids under 3.
Toys that have small parts are fine for older kids, but they can pose a choking hazard for children 3 years old and younger. Toys that contain small parts will have a warning label on the packaging and be age-graded accordingly, so keep a careful eye out as you shop.
Choose a toy that matches a child’s age and interests.
If a toy is too advanced, the child will become frustrated, and if it’s too simple, he or she will get bored. If you don’t know the interests of the child you are buying a gift for, a chat with their parents may help, or visit PlaySafe.org to see an age-by-age toy buying guide.
Shop at a retailer you know and trust.
Look for established businesses. Store staff will usually be knowledgeable about age-appropriate toys, and when you’re shopping online, that information will likely be included in the product description or elsewhere on the site. The same may not be true for garage sales, secondhand stores or temporary retailers that may not be around after the holidays; these sellers may not be knowledgeable of the latest safety information and certified products.
Once the gifts are unwrapped…
If you have children of different ages in the home, including a child under three, make sure you store older children’s toys away from younger children to prevent little ones from having access to small parts. Toys should be stored safely in an easily accessible storage bin to prevent slips, trips and falls.
It’s important to know that all toys sold in the U.S., no matter where they are made, are subject to strict mandatory safety standards. Before a toy makes its way to a store shelf or website, it’s required to have been tested and certified as compliant with more than 100 standards and tests for safety – and be certified by an accredited toy-testing lab. So when you’re shopping, you can relax! Just be sure to pick out toys that match a child’s age and interests… and don’t be shy about getting on the floor to play with the kids during the holidays. Showing little ones how to properly use a toy or game is the best way to make sure they understand how to safely enjoy it.
Joan Lawrence, a.k.a. the “Toy Safety Mom,” is a lifelong child safety advocate with more than 20 years of experience in the toy industry. As the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Senior Vice President of Standards and Regulatory Affairs, Joan manages TIA’s product safety programs, including the development of safety standards and efforts to educate families about toy safety. Joan is also TIA’s primary toy safety spokesperson and regularly gives advice on toy safety issues in major broadcast and print media. Joan is the daughter of a prominent pediatrician and herself a mother of three.
Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby
By Joyce Davis
Founder, Keeping Babies Safe
As we approach the holiday season, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma for Thanksgiving to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation.
When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest standards.
If your baby must sleep in a soft-sided play yard, it is critical that a supplemental mattress not be used, as it is a proven suffocation hazard. At Keeping Babies Safe, we strongly recommend that you only use the thin pad provided with the play yard. We also suggest that parents remove all soft bedding, such as pillows, comforters, blankets, billowy bumpers, toys, etc. from the crib, and always place the baby to sleep on his/her back.
While preparing for holiday travel, many first-time parents are unaware that there are federal crib standards for hotels, motels and other places of lodging where families may stay. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has tightened its rules on the safe use of cribs – greatly affecting places of public accommodation. The new crib safety rules require stronger wood to prevent slat breakage, as well as anti-loosening devices to keep hardware secure and prevent detaching. There are also strengthened mattress supports now required, as well as more rigorous safety testing for cribs.
As of December 28, 2012, hotels and motels that provide cribs for the use of their customers or guests must comply with the new federal standards. No longer can they offer traditional drop-side cribs. In addition, immobilizers and repair kits for cribs are not allowed. These businesses now play a key role in the collective effort to prevent crib-related deaths and ensure that children sleep safely when they are away from home.
Please call ahead if staying in a hotel/motel to see what model of crib they are using. Make sure it hasn’t been recalled by checking at www.recalls.gov. Also, please do not use a portable crib, such as a soft-sided play yard, for full-time crib use. A proper crib is the safest place for your baby to sleep.
Parents who bring their babies to places of lodging should closely inspect the cribs and ensure they meet the standards. Also, it is also important that the hotel/motel provides a fitted crib sheet. If one is not offered, do not use a twin sheet. We always suggest that parents bring their own crib sheet to ensure there is no issue.
Keeping Babies Safe, a non-profit organization that advocates for safe sleep practices, is an ongoing resource to parents. We encourage you to visit our website at KeepingBabiesSafe.org, where we have the latest information, such as our “Safe Sleep Environments for Babies” video.
To learn more about crib safety laws, call the CPSC hotline at (800) 638-2772 or visit www.cpsc.gov.
Keeping Your Child Safe on Halloween
By Jane Howard
Community Health Supervisor, Injury Prevention
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Kids love Halloween, but it is important to stay safe, especially on the spookiest night of the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. In fact, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. There are several safe and effective measures that families can take to reduce the risk of injury among children. One is to consider going to a Halloween party rather than trick-or-treating. Many schools, churches and community centers sponsor Halloween activities that provide a safe alternative to trick-or-treating on the streets.
However, if you and your children decide to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, follow these tips to help make it a safe night (and click here to download and print a quick reference guide!):
Suit Up for Safety
- Make sure that drivers can see your child’s costume in the dark.
- Have kids carry flashlights or glow sticks so that they are seen by drivers.
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape and stickers. If possible, choose bright colors.
- Use non-toxic face paint and makeup when possible, since masks can obstruct a child’s vision.
- If a mask is used, be sure it fits snuggly and that your child can see.
- Use nonflammable costumes.
Pick Your Place
- Cross the streets at crosswalks and intersections.
- Go with your child when they trick-or-treat. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without supervision.
- Teach your child to stop at street corners. Look left, right and left again before crossing. Don’t cross between parked cars.
- Make sure your child only goes to well-lit neighborhoods and houses.
Inspect the Loot
- Make sure to empty the bag and go through every piece of candy with your child.
- Throw away anything that has been opened and is not commercially wrapped.
- Throw away all fruit received from an unknown source.
Enjoy a fun and safe Halloween!
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, located in Milwaukee, is one of the leading pediatric medical centers in the United States. For more information visit chw.org.
Car Seats and Boosters: Simple Steps for a Safer Ride
By Dr. Mark R. Rosekind
Most parents understand that car seats are a necessity to keep children safe on every ride. Getting maximum protection for your child means finding the correct seat for your child’s age and size, ensuring that it’s correctly installed, and registering it with the manufacturer so you can be notified in case of a safety recall.
As part of our mission to protect Americans whether they choose to drive, ride or walk, NHTSA is helping to make choosing, installing and registering your child’s safety seat as easy as possible. We want parents to have the knowledge and tools necessary to protect children when riding in a vehicle. Our Parents Central Page at SaferCar.gov is all about child safety, especially as it relates to car seats.
Car seats save lives. In passenger cars, child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. For infants and toddlers in light trucks, the corresponding reductions are 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively.
Parents, please follow these three steps to protect your child when riding in the car:
First, find the correct type of seat for your child’s age and size. To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible – that means as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Click here to download a helpful guide to make sure your child is in the right seat as they grow up.
Second, immediately after buying a new car seat, register it with the manufacturer so that you’ll be notified if a safety recall should occur. This simple but critical step will help ensure that you will be notified if a defect is discovered with your car seat so it can be repaired and keep your child safe. Every seat comes with a postage-paid registration card that you should fill out and put in the mail. If you can’t find the card, you can register your seat online to stay informed. Toys“R”Us offers the ability to sign up for automatic notifications on their dedicated safety site at Toysrus.com/Safety should an item sold in their stores be recalled. You can also download NHTSA’s SaferCar app for the iPhone or for Android devices to check on recalls, review our Five Star Safety Ratings and other helpful information.
Third, properly installing a car seat can be a challenge for even the handiest parents – and even if you’ve done it before you might wonder if the seat is installed correctly. Help is available from experts known as Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians and with this useful locator on SaferCar.gov they can be found at a location near you. Just search by state or zip code and then visit these pros; they are trained to help parents protect kids in car seats.
These three steps will help keep your child safe on the road. Now and into the future, protect your child by bookmarking our Parents Central Pageat SaferCar.gov and follow NHTSA’s tips to keep your child safe from their first ride in the car as a baby through when they get their driver’s license. Parents Central has it covered. Remember: until they are old enough to protect themselves it’s up to us to protect children.
Do You Have a Plan to Stay Connected?
By Erin Bradshaw
Sr. Director, U.S. Preparedness, Save the Children
If you’re like me, there’s one thing you always give your kids before sending them off to school or child care for the day – a kiss. I wouldn’t give it up for the world and I bet you wouldn’t either.
But consider another expression of parental love that’s also worth sharing. Something else to leave your child with each day. Something that helps children stay safe – and only takes a few minutes to make.
I’m talking about an emergency contact card. Does your child have one? Is it always with them when you are not?
Think about it. If a disaster strikes and your family is separated – how easily could your child or your child’s caregiver locate your emergency contact information? What if the power is out or cell phone batteries die? What if local communications are down – does your family have an agreed out-of-town contact?
As part of our commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the Save the Children Get Ready Get Safe team is encouraging all families to make emergency contact cards through our Stay Connected campaign.
Can you guess how many cases of missing children were reported after that devastating disaster? Can you guess how long it took to reunite the last child with her family?
The answers may shock you.
More than 5,000 missing child reports were made. Many of these kids were separated from parents for days and weeks. Some longer. It took seven months to reunite the last 4-year-old girl with her family.
Yet even a matter of hours of separation can put children at high risk during an emergency of any magnitude. We don’t know where and when disaster will strike, but we know it will. In the past year alone, there were 47 major disasters declared in the United States.
It’s wonderful to have Toys“R”Us as a partner in our work to protect U.S. children before and after disaster strikes. And we love that Toys“R”Us engages families around the country in taking personal action and in supporting broader efforts for kids. Every time someone purchases a Save the Children reusable bag at Toys“R”Us stores, $1 from the purchase of each bag goes toward our Domestic Emergency Fund.
Thanks to help like this, if a major disaster affects children in your area, we can be there to make sure they get the supplies, protection and support they need. And we can help all families take action now that will help keep their children safe in the future.
So what can you do? Why not take a moment right now to create emergency contact cards for your family. Our online tool makes it easy and you can print out cards right at home. They fit nicely in a luggage tag and can be put in the bag or wallet that your child has with them every day. Taking this simple action could help keep your child safe and help give you peace of mind – which can be just as heartwarming as that kiss!
Make your cards here: www.savethechildren.org/connect
Check out one mom’s reflections on how the simple act of making an emergency contact card could have helped her find her 2-year old daughter when Katrina separated them 10 years ago.
Erin Bradshaw leads Save the Children’s Get Ready Get Safe initiative.
Think This Can’t Happen to You? Think Again.
By Janette E. Fennell
President & Founder, KidsAndCars.org
Every summer at KidsAndCars.org, we brace ourselves for the rising number of children who will die of heatstroke in vehicles. In the past 20 years, more than 670 U.S. children have lost their lives after unknowingly being left in a vehicle or gaining access to a vehicle on their own.
Please, do not stop reading here because you believe you could NEVER forget your child in a vehicle. After working on this issue for more than 18 years, I can assure you that the absolute worst mistake any parent or caregiver can make is to think that this could never happen to them – and that they are not capable of unknowingly leaving their child behind.
After experiencing the most unthinkable tragedy one could endure, the parents we work with are the first ones to admit that they NEVER thought something like this could happen to them or their family. The suffering these families experience is simply unimaginable.
These same parents have every safety device available in their homes and love and cherish their children above all. They are moms and dads, just like you and me. In 90% of the cases where children die in a hot vehicle, the parents are pillars of their community and from all walks of life – a minister, dentist, doctor, college professor, construction worker, stay-at-home parents, the CEO of a hospital, a vice-principal and yes, even a rocket scientist.
Fatigue, lack of sleep, a minor change in daily routine or distractions can throw anyone’s life off course. Still, many people question how a parent or caregiver could forget their child. KidsAndCars.org works with memory experts who have studied these type of cases. Their findings indicate that the brain processes involved in forgetting a child and material objects are disturbingly similar. Scientific studies confirm that you cannot assume your memory will never fail, even when it involves your precious child – and the consequences of a memory failure can be catastrophic when it does involve your child.
Current state laws require putting your baby in a rear-facing child safety seat in the backseat of vehicles. These laws have saved the lives of thousands of children in car crashes. The correlation between the rise in heat stroke deaths and the mid-1990s move to put children in the backseat is striking. An unintended consequence of this shift to the backseat is that when the child is “out of sight” those quiet little unobtrusive passengers can slip “out of mind.”
In addition, children are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke since a child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s and their respiratory system is not fully developed. This fact and knowing the temperature in a car can rise very quickly, even with the windows slightly opened, can lead to deadly consequences in a matter of minutes.
KidsAndCars.org works tirelessly year-round to educate parents and caregivers about these dangers, including our nationwide “Look Before You Lock” program. One tip to avoid this type of tragedy is to leave your cellphone, employee badge or handbag in the backseat on the floorboard in front of your child. This way you’ll be forced to open the backdoor when you arrive at your destination and look in the backseat before you lock your vehicle.
Also, make sure you have a plan with your childcare provider. Parents should agree to always call the provider if the child will not be coming in as scheduled. Then, if your child does not arrive as planned, the childcare provider should promise to call every emergency number you have given them until they confirm the whereabouts of your child. This one telephone call can save the life of a child who has been unknowingly left alone in a vehicle.
Additionally, to ensure that children cannot get into vehicles on their own, always keep your car locked, even in the garage and driveway, and keep keys and key fobs out of their reach. If a child is missing, immediately check the inside and trunk of all vehicles in the area very carefully, just as you would a swimming pool or other body of water.
By being cautious, attentive and safety minded with your children, you can help to make sure they stay safe in and around vehicles. For more information please visit the KidsAndCars.org website at www.KidsAndCars.org. To download a list of safety tips, please click here.
Making Sure Your Children’s Products Meet the Latest Safety Standards
By Laura Nikolovska
Kids In Danger
When Kids In Danger (KID) started in 1998, there were few mandatory safety standards for children’s products in America. This is something that usually surprises parents, but KID has been hard at work for the past 15 years to change this. As a result of our work, most children’s products have federal safety standards. Some of these standards include:
- Full-Size, Non-Full-Size Cribs – Manufactured on or after June 28, 2011
- Play Yards – Manufactured on or after February 28, 2013
- Bassinets – Manufactured on or after April 14, 2014
- Bassinets and Cradles – Manufactured on or after April 23, 2014 with the standard for removable bassinet beds going into effect on April 23, 2015
- Infant Swings – Manufactured on or after May 7, 2013
- Strollers – Mandatory federal standard will go into effect on September 10, 2015. In the meantime, make sure the stroller purchase meets ASTM F15-833-13b voluntary standard and avoid strollers with adjustable grab bars.
The key takeaway here is to look for the manufacture date, not the date of sale of a product. If the manufacture date is before those listed above, consider updating the products in your home. Additionally, products that meet federal standards can still be recalled, so it’s important to keep up with recalls. KID makes this easier through monthly email alerts and a recall digest poster. Sign up for these and additional safety resources at KidsInDanger.org.
Clearly, great progress has been made as many children’s products now have mandatory standards. But, KID advises consumers to watch out for products that are not required to meet any mandatory safety standards, including:
- Sleep products. Remember, the safest place for a baby to sleep is a crib that hasn’t been recalled and meets the federal standard. Bassinets and play yards also must meet safety standards. The same is not true for many other sleep products.
- Infant seats. KID recommends that caregivers use a bouncer seat or a swing instead as these products have standards they need to meet.
- Accessories not sold with the product, but as aftermarket items such as seat covers, extra mattresses, crib tents, etc. Products added may change how a product works and cause safety problems; most don’t have standards.
Visit KidsInDanger.org for more information about child product safety.
Keeping Toy Safety Top of Mind, All Year Long
By Patricia H. Adkins
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
The holidays are over and hopefully your kids are still having fun with the toys they received as gifts. For many families, the holiday season is the time of year that they look to us for assurance that the toys on store shelves are safe. We know that the only way we can give you confidence in the safety of toys is if we are advocating for your child all year long.
This is why our Chairman, Elliot F. Kaye, is in Southeast Asia right now at the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair. He is speaking to the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers about their need to create a culture of safety and to comply with our nation’s toy safety standard (which is the strongest in the world). Next month, Chairman Kaye and other CPSC officials will be in New York City to talk safety with even more manufacturers at the International Toy Fair.
Throughout the year, CPSC will work to keep America’s children safe through our global toy safety system including:
- Requiring mandatory independent third-parting testing of toys
- Requiring stringent federal limits on toxic metals in toys
- Working closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop violative toy shipments at the ports before reaching store shelves.
No matter the time of year, when shopping for toys, keep safety in mind, as there are some hazards you want to avoid. The majority of toy-related deaths are associated with choking on small parts, small balls and balloons, while riding toys account for the majority of hospital ER visits.
What you can do:
- Keep small balls and other toys with small parts away from children under 3.
- Keep deflated and broken balloons away from children.
- Use age labeling on toy packaging as a guide when shopping.
- For riding toys, be sure to include safety gear such as helmets, elbow and knee pads for bikes and scooters.
So continue to shop and play with confidence all year long, use products with care, and visit CPSC.gov for additional toys and product safety information.
CPSC’s guest blog submission does not indicate an endorsement of Toys”R”Us or the products sold by the company.
Car Safety for Kids During the Holiday Season
By Amber Rollins
Director & Volunteer Manager
Our children are usually the first ones to remind us about the true joy and fun of the holiday season. And, it’s up to us to help keep them safe so they can enjoy all the season has to offer. Here at KidsAndCars.org, we want to share some ideas about how you - parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends - can protect children from some of the holiday season dangers that you might not have thought about.
Distracted and impaired driving is at an all-time high during this cheerful time of year both on and off the roads; and especially around shopping centers. Drivers are preoccupied with planning for visitors, scoring the best deals and rushing to get last minute gifts making parking lots and garages an especially dangerous place during the hustle and bustle of the season.
Every year during the holidays there are thousands of vehicle related incidents that cost consumers millions of dollars and tragically for some… the life of a loved one. The good news is these accidental injuries and deaths are both predictable AND preventable.
Backover and Frontover Dangers
Thousands of children are killed or seriously injured each year because a driver backing up or slowly moving forward didn't see them. These tragedies take place mostly in parking lots and home driveways.
Every vehicle has a blind zone directly in front of the vehicle and behind the rear bumper where a child cannot be seen by the operator, even when the driver is using their rearview and side mirrors correctly. The blind zone behind all vehicles averages about eight feet wide, and twenty to thirty feet long. There are also blind zones in front of vehicles which are typically between six to eight feet wide and long.
Pulling out of parking spots becomes increasingly dangerous when vehicles parked on either side of an automobile eliminate the driver’s vision of pedestrians walking into the path of their car, truck or van. The bottom line is that a motorist cannot avoid hitting something or someone they cannot see. As drivers, we must be extra vigilant in parking lots during the holidays and as pedestrians we must do the same.
Make sure children hold hands with an adult in parking lots at ALL times. If you have multiple children and not enough hands, create a hand-holding train or fasten the younger children into a stroller and make sure everyone stays together. Always watch for cars, trucks or vans pulling in or out of spots when walking through parking lots. Teach children that “parked” cars might move and make sure they understand that the driver might not be able to see them, even if they can see the driver.
Parents should also be extra cautious at home as many driveway backovers and frontovers increase during busy holiday times and when there are changes in daily routines. Always make sure children are being actively supervised when people are coming and going from the home. Any sledding or snow activities should be closely supervised and done far away from all vehicles, roadways, parking lots and driveways.
NEVER leave children alone inside a vehicle, not even for a minute
We all understand the extra effort it takes to load, unload and reload a child into a vehicle. It is exhausting. But, we must never put our own convenience above the safety of our children. A quick run into the store can easily take much longer than expected; (long lines, distractions, unexpected delays, etc.) but it only takes a few seconds for things to go very wrong when a child is alone inside a car, truck or van.
Car thieves are always on the prowl so leaving a child alone in the back seat is NOT a risk you want to take. They expect there to be holiday goodies in your car which is an added bonus to stealing your ride. Many times the thief doesn’t even realize there is a child inside until they have left with your car. Typically, children are physically unharmed but after being abandoned by the thief, the emotional and psychological scars of being ‘taken’ can be quite serious.
Power windows in vehicles have killed or injured thousands of children. Children are curious and like to push buttons without realizing the dangers of what can happen. This takes place very quickly and power windows exert an upward force so powerful that children can be suffocated or maimed within seconds.
Every year hundreds of children are hospitalized or killed after accidentally setting a car into motion. Most drivers believe that their vehicle cannot be shifted into gear unless the vehicle is running and the driver has their foot on the brake. However, this is NOT the case, especially with older vehicles.
Within minutes a young child can begin to suffer the life-threatening symptoms of heatstroke, even on days when the outside temperature is in the lower 60s, or hypothermia (cold) when left in a car, truck or van in frigid temperatures without the heat on.
To learn more about how to keep your children safe in and around vehicles or to support the work of KidsAndCars.org, please visit our website KidsAndCars.org.
Being There for Kids When They Need It Most
By Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais
Senior Director for U.S. Emergencies
Save the Children
In my work, I’m reminded again and again how vulnerable children are when disasters strike. The children I meet have just lost people or things at the center of their world. A tornado, hurricane or fire may have just destroyed their school, child care center or home. Family members or classmates may have been lost or severely injured in a violent storm or other tragic event.
But, the truth is, I have the best job in the world. When we hear about terrible things happening in the media, I have the blessing of being able to go and help. I can comfort parents while they’re crying and let them know we’ll keep their kids safe as they start to rebuild their lives. I can play with children and help them connect with little friends and find moments of carefree laughter again.
I’ve been at Save the Children for 11 years, and these memories stretch way back. I remember so clearly a mom in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Flooding had destroyed all child care facilities in her community, but she couldn’t afford to lose her job at a fast food restaurant. So she brought her baby to work and laid her precious bundle down in a car seat on the floor behind the counter. I was so happy to invite this mom to the emergency child care facility we started out of the corner of a FEMA tent. Imagine her relief at knowing her child would be safe and well cared for while she was at work.
Children need support from the moment a disaster strikes and Save the Children is often on the ground within hours. We distribute essential child-focused food and supplies like diapers, cribs and car seats. And, we set up our signature child-friendly spaces to provide care and support for kids and families in shelters and community centers.
I’ll never forget two little girls in Moore, Oklahoma, giggling over pipe cleaner crowns they created and modeled. They had a chance to stop reeling from their losses, including a brother lost in the tornado.
As we help children rebound through this immediate recovery work, we also work to help damaged child care centers quickly reopen and activate our long-term emotional recovery program in schools. Through play, a normal routine and the chance to express themselves, children tap their natural resiliency. Distress doesn’t become long-lasting behavioral and academic problems. Coping skills allow kids to face their fears and move forward. Children can continue to learn and develop.
I’m so glad we’re able to reach children when they need us most. But, I also know there is more we all can do. Our “Get Ready Get Safe” initiative helps families, educators and communities to plan ahead. If you don’t already have a family emergency plan, make one. If you haven’t already checked on the plan at your child’s school or child care facility, do so. We all must work together to protect children in our families and communities. The children are counting on us to keep them safe.
Click here to learn more about how Save the Children and Toys“R”Us are helping families prepare for emergencies.
Keeping Kids Safe at Home
By Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH
Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Boston Principal Investigator
Staff physician, Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Windows, stairs, bathtubs, toilets.
To the average person, these are essential parts of a home. However, as a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I see all of these as potential hazards, especially to young children, because I see injuries from these common household fixtures every day.
Most of the time the injuries are minor – cuts and bruises. But some injuries in the home can lead to serious brain injury – for example a fall from the window or down the stairs.
Falls are one of the most common causes of injury among children. Although every parent is excited when their young child starts to walk, with this mobility comes more potential for injuries. Stairs are a common site for falls in the home, even for the older toddler or child. Thankfully, stair gates are very effective in preventing falls. At the top of the stairs, these gates should be mounted into the wall to ensure stability. Pressure-mounted gates can be pushed over; and therefore, they are not adequate for safety at the top of the stairs. Gates at the bottom of the stairs can be pressure-mounted, although they should be routinely checked to make sure they are not coming loose.
And every spring, I know we will see several children in the emergency department who have fallen out the window of houses or apartments. After a long cold winter, families are happy when spring comes and they can open up a window to let in some warm air. However, window screens do not protect children from falling out of windows. The best way to prevent young children from falling out of windows is to use window guards. Or, if your window can open from the top, just open the window down from the top half. Also, make sure there is no furniture, like a bed or chest, onto which the child can climb to reach the window.
Bathtubs must always be used with constant supervision as they can be a serious drowning threat for infants and young children, even in just a few inches of water. Young children don’t have the knowledge to move their head out of the water if their head falls into it. A young child should NEVER be left alone in the bathtub, even for a short period of time and even if you are using an infant tub. The best prevention against bathtub drowning is constant supervision. Children can also fall with their head into a toilet and drown. Again supervision is important, but also making sure the door to the bathroom is closed or even using toilet seat locks, can protect a young child from this type of injury.
So although home related injuries are common, especially in young children less than five years old, taking care to put safety equipment in place and close supervision are effective strategies to prevent these injuries.
Hidden Hazards in the Home
By Nancy A. Cowles
Kids In Danger
The danger of recalled products was brought home recently when two young children were trapped in a recalled hope chest and suffocated. The chest was made decades ago and a recall was announced in 1996, providing a new latch that could be opened from the inside. Yet, nearly 20 years later, dangerous products such as this hope chest remain in homes, posing dangers to children.
This story is close to our hearts here at KID, as our founders’ 16-month-old-son, Danny, died in a recalled portable crib that was still in use at his childcare facility. A state inspector missed the recalled crib just one week prior to Danny’s death. Recalled products don’t have broken parts or obvious flaws that are easily visible to consumers – only by knowing of the recall can families protect themselves.
A product is recalled by the government, usually the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) when it is found to present a reasonable risk of serious injury or death. Sometimes a product is recalled only after a child is injured, but other times, CPSC or manufacturers catch a flaw or hazard prior to injury and are able to announce the recall before an injury takes place.
You might be surprised to learn that most recalled products remain in use. Many people are never aware of the recall, and others never get around to responding even if they hear of it. This means there could very likely be recalled products in your home.
To keep our children safe, regulators and manufacturers – and the public -- need to do more to get recalled products out of use.
To begin, products must be made as safe as possible from the beginning stages of innovation. The CPSC now requires testing to strong standards for most children’s products including toys, cribs, bassinets and more. Look for new products that meet these updated standards.
But to remove hidden hazards from our homes and childcare facilities, parents and caregivers should inventory the items they use with their children and check them against the list at CPSC.gov or visit KidsInDanger.org on your mobile device to search for recalls.
Right now, the only way to be sure manufacturers contact you directly when a product you own is recalled is through product registration – sending in the card that comes with your product or registering online. Learn more about registering products on the Product Safety Vigilance Program page on this site.
Then, help others learn about the recall. Share information on social media, download a monthly Recall Digest to post any place parents and caregivers gather and never donate or hand down recalled products.
Together with these steps, we can help make our homes safer.
Go-To Guidelines for Grandparents – Product Safety Standards Continue to Evolve
By Laura Nikolovska
Kids In Danger
More than 2 million grandparents have assumed the role of primary caregiver for their grandchildren, and all grandparents at some time care for their grandchildren and occasionally purchase children’s products. Yet a recent study by the United States Census Bureau found that many grandparents do not know the newest safety guidelines for children. The survey focused on appropriate sleep position, crib safety and car seat use. Below are the most recent safety guidelines for children in regards to these three areas:
- Babies must be put to sleep on their backs to help prevent SIDS.
- The crib should be bare – with only a snug mattress and tightly-fitted sheet. The survey found that almost 50 percent of grandparents thought soft bedding was safe for the child, but in fact, soft bedding poses a suffocation hazard.
- Children should remain in rear-facing car seats until two years of age. This is the safest possible position for children in the event of a crash.
Further, caregivers might be tempted to re-use old cribs and play yards, but it is important to know that there are tough new regulations for these products. By visiting the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) website at CPSC.gov you can learn more about these new safety standards and how they will help keep your grandchildren safer.
Kids In Danger (KID) has also developed a handy Yard Sale Safety Checklist that grandparents can bring with them as they shop for their grandchildren. The checklist is full of great advice for buying or using secondhand products, but here are our 3 favorite tips:
- A product with missing or broken pieces might seem like a good deal and an easy fix, but even if you can repair it that doesn’t ensure the product will be safe for your grandchild. Avoid buying items that will need repair.
- Do not waste your money on dangerous products like bath seats, baby walkers and crib bumper pads. Don’t think bargain when you see these items, think beware!
- We all attach sentimental value to things we’ve saved from when our own children were kids. But before you pull them out for the grand kids, remember that they may pose real hazards. For example, you shouldn’t use, buy, or sell cribs made before June 28, 2011 because they do not meet tough new federal standards. Even if your grandkids will only be using the product for a short time, they are still not safe to use.
Kids In Danger (KID) is a nonprofit organization focused on protecting children by improving child product safety. Our Debby Sayah Grandparent Outreach Program seeks to help grandparents protect their grandchildren from dangerous children’s products by providing lifesaving information on how to identify and remove these items from homes and other settings. The program was named in honor of Debby Sayah, grandmother to twins Andy and Jake. In 2001, Andy was killed by a foam sleep positioner when he was just 2 months old.
For more information, please visit www.KidsInDanger.org.
Furniture Tip-Overs – A Hidden Hazard in Every Home
By Lisa Siefert
Founder and President
“Love you,” I had said to my baby boy, Shane. “Love you,” he said back from his bed as I closed the door to his bedroom for his afternoon nap. Later, I went to wake my baby from his nap as my husband came in from yard work. My husband heard a sound that was unrecognizable — my screams. My baby’s dresser had fallen on him. Shane had just turned two years old when he died.
This story would be quite different if we had known the safety hazards associated with the dresser. Or better yet, if my son’s dresser/changing table had come with a strap to secure it. As we would later find out, some new furniture and TVs include a safety strap or anchor, but many items, even nursery and youth furnishings, do not.
A new U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data report issued December 2012 shows that one child dies every two weeks and over 25,000 injuries are reported each year to children under 18 from TVs, furniture or appliances toppling over onto them. 2011 had the highest one-year number of fatalities reported.
Tip-overs are “one of the most dangerous hidden hazards in the home” according to the CPSC. While tragedies involving falling furniture or televisions are not uncommon, there are measures that can be taken to remove the risk. If safety straps are not included with the furniture you purchase, they only cost a few dollars and are not difficult to install. Low-cost anchoring devices are effective in preventing tip-over incidents. In addition to securing the furniture and televisions in your own home, be mindful of anywhere your child spends time, such as grandparents’ homes, day care centers or even your gym’s nursery. Be sure to not overlook short furniture as it is just as dangerous as larger pieces. The changing table/dresser that took Shane's life was only 35 inches tall.
To help prevent tip-over tragedies, CPSC recommends the following safety measures in homes where children live or visit:
- Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor.
- Place TVs on sturdy, low bases, or anchor the furniture and the TV on top of the base, and push the TV as far back on the furniture as possible.
- Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off of TV stands or furniture.
- Keep TV and/or cable cords out of reach of children.
- Make sure freestanding kitchen ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
- Supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed.
For more furniture safety tips, please visit www.ShanesFoundation.org.
How to Shop for a Crib that is Right for Your Baby
By Joyce Davis
Keeping Babies Safe
A new baby brings happiness and some challenges to a family. Before bringing your new baby home, make sure that you’ve taken every step possible to ensure that he or she is safe and secure.
Purchasing a crib is an essential part of this process, and it can be a little daunting. After all, the crib is the only place you leave your baby unattended.
When choosing a crib, we recommend that you purchase a new crib that meets the stronger safety standards that were enacted