Back-to-school safety checklist

Consumer Reports News: September 08, 2009 03:09 PM

On the same day that President Obama exhorted students to “get serious" and study, the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who was appointed by Obama, encouraged students and parents to get serious about safety.

Speaking at Rosewood Elementary School in Columbia, S.C. (Obama was at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va.), Inez Tenenbaum released a safety checklist and told parents and school officials to "make it a priority to check for hazards at home and at school.”

“It just takes a moment for a child to be seriously injured or even killed riding a bicycle, playing on the playground, using a movable soccer goal, wearing a jacket with a drawstring or by a recalled product,” said Tenenbaum. “Let’s keep kids in the classroom and out of the emergency room."

Here are the items on Tenenbaum's safety checklist:

Each year, more than 200,000 hospital emergency room visits are related to playground injuries. Most injuries involve falls onto the playground surface or playground equipment.

  • Check with school officials to make sure that the school’s playground equipment has been inspected and maintained.
  • Check to see if there are at least nine inches of shock absorbing surface material around the school’s playground equipment.
Read more about playground safety on the Safety blog.

Bike helmets
The CPSC reports that an annual average of 80 children under 16 have died in bicycle-related incidents in recent years. About half of the 500,000 bicycle-related emergency room-treated injuries in 2008 involved children under 16.
  • Make sure your child wears a helmet that meets CPSC requirements every time he/she bikes or rides a scooter to and from school.
  • Make sure your child’s helmet fits snuggly, level on top of the head, with a buckled chin strap.
Read more about bike safety on Consumer Reports.

Since 1985,the CPSC has received reports of 28 deaths and 71 non-fatal incidents involving the entanglement of children’s clothing drawstrings.
  • Make sure that none of your child’s clothing has drawstrings at the hood or neck area.
Read more about drawstrings on the Safety blog.

Movable soccer goals
From 1998-2008, the CPSC has gotten reports of at least 8 deaths and an estimated 2,000 emergency department visits by children younger than 16 related to soccer goal tip-overs and structural failures.
  • Check that all soccer goals are securely anchored while in use.
Read more about soccer goals on the Safety blog

Recalled products
  • Check the CPSC’s Web site,, to make sure all back to school purchases and previously owned items have not been recalled.
  • Sign up at to get e-mail alerts of recall announcements.

Read more about recalls on the Safety blog.

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