Release date: August 17, 2021
Release number: 21-180

Release Details

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As schools reopen this fall and kids head back to the classroom, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging parents and students to “Think Safety First.”  Every year, thousands of children are injured on playgrounds, while playing sports, or as they walk, bike, skateboard or scooter to and from school.

Prevent injuries and illness before they happen by following these safety tips when heading back to school:

Mask Up:

  • Safety Tip: To stay safe from COVID-19, follow local, state and federal guidance on face mask wearing at school.

Distracted Walking: 

  • Safety Tip: Don’t text or talk on the phone while walking. Distracted walking can be dangerous, especially near traffic and crosswalks.
  • For the two-year period from 2019 to 2020, there were an estimated 4,600 emergency room-treated injuries associated with walking while distracted on the phone.

Bicycles:

  • Safety Tip: Wear a helmet when biking, skateboarding, or riding a scooter to school, or while playing sports.
  • From fractures to contusions and lacerations, there were an estimated annual average of 144,100 emergency room-treated bicycle injuries from 2017 to 2019, to children under 16 years old.

Playgrounds:

  • Safety Tip: Leave necklaces and clothing with drawstrings at home to reduce strangulation hazards. Check for “S” hooks, protruding bolt ends, and sharp points or edges on playground equipment. Don’t play on slides or other surfaces that are burning hot. Check that the playground has good impact surfacing such as nine inches of mulch/wood chips.
  • Each year, more than 206,700 injuries to children under the age of 16 occur on playgrounds. CPSC has investigated 43 deaths associated with playground equipment that happened since 2014.

Backpacks:

  • Safety Tip: Lighten the load! Make sure backpacks for students are not too heavy.
  • Heavy backpacks can hurt young backs! From 2017 to 2019, an estimated annual average of 7,500 kids under 19 years old were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to backpacks.

Movable Soccer Goal Deaths and Injuries:

  • Safety Tip: Make sure movable soccer goals are anchored securely!
  • CPSC is aware of 12 reported fatalities involving children under the age of 16, which occurred between 2000 and 2019, due to soccer goal tip overs or structural failure. From 2000 to 2019, there were about 3,400 emergency room-treated soccer goal tip over- or structural failure-related injuries involving children under the age of 16.

Chemistry Classroom Experiments:

  • Safety TipDon’t get burned by science! Parents: Attend back-to-school night, or contact the teacher and ask about precautions that will be taken during experiments using fuel and flames.
  • To minimize the risk of injuries to students from flame jetting--a sudden and possibly violent flash fire that can occur when pouring flammable liquids from a container over an exposed flame or other ignition source--schools and teachers should:
    • Conduct a hazard analysis and take proper precautions.
    • Consider safer demonstrations, such as a flame test.
    • If pouring flammable liquids, use the smallest beakers possible, and keep larger containers out of the classroom. Do not use flasks.

Don’t become a statistic! “Think Safety First” when heading back to school.

Related poster:

NSN Poster: Think Safety First as Kids Head Back to School

For more information, contact Nicolette Nye at nnye@cpsc.gov or at 240-204-4410.

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