WASHINGTON – More than crossing guards and the condition of school buses should be on parents' minds for their children's safety as the kids return to school from summer vacation. Also atop their safety concerns should be playground equipment, art supplies and clothing, the government says.
"The most important thing is the idea that parents really have to be proactive when they send their children back to school," said Nancy Nord, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The gold standard for safety are products that comply with standards set by the American Society of Testing and Materials, according to the CPSC and manufacturer trade groups. Among their recommendations:
—Avoid buying clothing with hood and neck drawstrings that can catch on playground and other equipment, putting the wearer at risk of strangling. Hood and neck drawstrings from clothing already in a child's wardrobe should be removed.
—Drawstrings on children's clothing bottoms should be short and not have toggles at the end.
—Playgrounds should have a shock-absorbent surface such as mulch or wood chips under the equipment, in case children fall.
—Parents should look for exposed bolts, S hooks and other playground equipment hardware that can catch on children's clothing.
—Playground ladder rungs and guard rails should be spaced so children cannot become trapped between them.
—Supervise children on the playground.
—Moveable soccer goals should be properly anchored to the ground to keep them from tipping over and pinning a child underneath.
—Make sure art materials are not toxic for children by looking for labels that say "conforms to ASTM D-4236." Be especially careful about reading the labels of art materials for advanced classes or art programs not offered through a school.
—Make sure children have and wear appropriate helmets for riding bicycles, scooters and skateboards.