“Stay in school” was President Obama’s message to the nation’s schoolchildren Tuesday as a new academic year opened throughout much of the country. The message was echoed by Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, as she traveled back to South Carolina, her home state, to meet with students and faculty at a Columbia elementary school.

However, Tenenbaum’s message to students emphasized staying in school by remaining safety conscious and staying out of the hospital. As a former South Carolina State Superintendent of Education and longtime child safety advocate, Tenenbaum’s appointment to the CPSC’s highest post brings to the agency a special emphasis on matters of product safety concerning children.

Tenenbaum released a “Back to School Safety Checklist” that parents, teachers, and students could use to create a safer school environment.

“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,” Tenenbaum told the South Carolina audience.

“Let’s keep kids in the classroom and out of the emergency room. Parents and school officials should make it a priority to check for hazards at home and at school,” she said.

Written in first-person, the safety checklist focuses on 5 areas that are critical for children and their supervisors to understand:


(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.)

  • I checked with my school’s officials to make sure that the school’s playground equipment has been inspected and maintained.
  • There are at least nine inches of shock absorbing surface material around my school’s playground equipment.

Bicycle Helmets

(CPSC staff has reports of an annual average of 80 children under 16 years of age who died in bicycle-related incidents in recent years. About half of the approximately 500,000 bicycle-related emergency room-treated injuries in 2008 involved children under 16 years of age.)

  • My child wears a helmet that meets CPSC requirements every time he/she bikes or rides a scooter to and from school.
  • My child’s helmet fits snuggly, level on top of the head, with a buckled chin strap.


(Since 1985, CPSC has received reports of 28 deaths and 71 non-fatal incidents involving the entanglement of children’s clothing drawstrings.)

  • None of my child’s outerwear clothing has drawstrings at the hood or neck area.

Movable Soccer Goals

(From 1998-2008, CPSC has reports of at least 8 deaths and an estimated 2,000 emergency department visits by children younger than 16 years of age that are related to soccer goal tip-overs and structural failures.)

  • All soccer goals are securely anchored while in use.

Recalled Products

  • I have checked CPSC’s Web site, www.cpsc.gov, to make sure all back to school purchases and previously owned items have not been recalled.
  • I have signed up at www.cpsc.gov to have email alerts of CPSC recall announcements that interest me sent directly to my email inbox.

Recent recall notices for consumer safety products, issued by the CPSC, as well as warnings about food and drugs from the FDA, and automobile recall information, can be found on the News section of Beasley Allen’s web site. Visit us regularly for the most recent information to help you protect your family.

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