Consumer Product Safety Commission Targets Danger of Children’s Outwear Drawstings Around School Buses

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Amid reports of at least a dozen child deaths, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) has approved a new federal safety rule that designates certain children’s upper outerwear with neck or hood drawstrings as potential hazards when worn near school buses.

The June 29 vote was unanimous as all five members of the commission targeted clothing sizes 2T through 12 for outerwear with the neck or hood drawstrings and sizes 2T through 16 for children’s upper outwear with certain waist or bottom drawstrings. CPSC said it has received reports of 26 child deaths related to a drawstring become entangled in school bus doors, on playground slides and other objects. Waist and bottom drawstrings have been caught in car doors or other parts and have resulted in dragging accidents.

Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of CPSC, said that between 1985 and April of this year the CPSC is aware of 56 reports of incidents where drawstrings in the neck or hood of upper outerwear became entangled. Eighteen of those incidents resulted in child fatalities.

Over the same time period, drawstrings on the waist and bottom of these garments resulted in 28 reports of entanglement and eight fatalities.

“Seven of eight of these fatalities resulted when the drawstring became caught in a bus, and the bus pulled away,” Tenenbaum added.

CPSC issued guidelines in February of 1996 that ere incorporated into an industry voluntary standard the following year to help prevent children from strangling or becoming entangled on drawstrings jackets or sweatshirts. Since the industry standard was introduced to disallow the use of drawstrings, defined as “a non-retractable cord, ribbon, or tape of any material to pull together parts of upper outerwear to provide for closure,” fatal incidents involving garments with drawstrings through the neck or hood have decreased by 75 percent.

Meanwhile, fatalities associated with drawstrings through the waist or bottom have dropped 100 percent. Still, since 2006, CSPC said it has participated in 115 recalls of noncomplying products with drawstrings.