Drawstrings on children's clothing pose hazards

Consumer Reports News: July 29, 2009 03:36 PM

Although there have been federal guidelines and an industry standard for more than 10 years, clothing with hazardous drawstrings continues to be sold.

Clothing drawstrings are a strangulation hazard because they can get caught on playground equipment and in other places, like bus doors. In 2007 and 2008, the CPSC issued more than two dozen recalls of clothing with such drawstrings, mostly sweatshirts and jackets. (See one from February in a Safety blog post.) The agency continues to track and investigate incidents of deaths and injuries each year in which children’s hood and waist drawstrings become entangled.

When your baby reaches size 2T (not uncommon around his first birthday), CPSC recommends removing neck drawstrings from all outerwear, including jackets and sweatshirts. Likewise, before buying outerwear with a waistband drawstring in sizes 2T and up, such as those found at the bottom of a jacket, make sure the drawstring is sewn to the garment at its midpoint so that it can’t be pulled out more than three inches from the garment on either side. (Read our recent posts on other children's clothing features you should look for and avoid. and tips for buying used clothes for babies.)

Even better, do not purchase children’s jackets and sweatshirts that have any drawstrings. Look for snaps, buttons, Velcro, or elastic at the neck and waist instead. Finally, remove toggles or knots at the ends of all drawstrings to prevent them from getting caught on objects or doors and entrapping a child.

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