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Back-to-School Safety Tips

Back to school? Time for a safety check. Use this list to prevent your kids from harm at school, at home, and at play.

Playgrounds
Each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for playground-associated injuries. Most of these injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment. Take a look at the surfaces of your local playground. There should be a 12-inch depth of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber or fiber material. (This surface will prevent possible head injuries in case a child falls.) Here are more tips for checking the safety of public playgrounds.

Bike Helmets
Since a growing number of kids are riding their bikes to school, make sure your kids always wear their helmets. All bike helmets manufactured or sold in the U.S. are required to meet federal safety standards. Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. There is one exception: Kids shouldn't wear bike helmets when playing -- especially on playground equipment.

Backpacks
Textbooks, notebooks, lunch, toys... how much weight is your child toting back and forth each day? Take the load off your child by following these backpack safety tips.

Soccer
Many people don't associate soccer with injury. One source of trouble is the soccer goal. To prevent soccer goals from tipping over, make sure they're anchored into the ground. You can use the following:

  • auger-style anchors that screw into the ground;
  • semi-permanent anchors, which require a permanently secured base that is buried underground combined with the use of tethers or bolts to secure the goal;
  • peg, stake, or j-hook style anchors that are driven into the ground; or
  • sandbags or counterweights if the goals are indoors.

Jacket and Sweatshirt Drawstrings
Drawstrings may look trendy, but they can get caught on lots of stuff, including elevators, playground equipment, and cribs. Remove drawstrings on hoods or around the neck of clothing. If drawstrings at the waist or bottom of an article of clothing are looking a tad long, trim them down to no longer than three inches.

Loops on Window Blind Cords
Look at the blinds in your house, or at your child's daycare or school. You or the teacher should cut the loop on two-corded horizontal blinds and attach separate tassels to keep kids from getting entangled in the cords. Vertical blinds, continuous loop systems, and drapery cords use looped cords to function. Do not cut these loops. Instead, install a permanent tie-down device.

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