The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted (5-0) today to approve a new federal safety rule for drawstrings in children’s outerwear.

The final rule designates children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12, with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16, with certain waist or bottom drawstrings, as substantial product hazards.

Drawstrings can catch or become entangled with objects, such as a car door or playground slide, posing dragging, strangulation entrapment hazards to children.

CPSC has received 26 reports of children who have died when the drawstring on their garment became entangled on playground slides, school bus doors, and other objects. Waist and bottom drawstrings that have been caught in doors or other car parts have resulted in dragging incidents.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 provided CPSC with the authority to specify, by rule, for any consumer product or class of consumer products, characteristics whose existence or absence shall be deemed a substantial product hazard. CPSC’s federal partners at Customs and Border Protection now have authority to stop potentially hazardous shipments of children’s outerwear with drawstrings from entering the United States. In addition, CPSC has increased regulatory authority to issue product recalls garments that do not conform to the rules.

In February 1996, CPSC issued guidelines, which were incorporated into an industry voluntary standard in 1997, to help prevent children from strangling or becoming entangled on drawstrings in outerwear garments, such as jackets or sweatshirts. Since the industry standard was introduced, fatal incidents involving garments with drawstrings through the neck or hood have decreased by 75 percent, and fatalities associated with drawstrings through the waist or bottom have dropped 100 percent. Nonetheless, from 2006 through 2010, the agency has participated in 115 recalls of noncomplying products with drawstrings.

To report a defective product to the CPSC please log onto SaferProducts.gov

If you or someone you know has been injured by a defective product, contact the defective product lawyers at the Alexander Law Group, LLP for a free case evaluation or call 888.777.1776. All calls free and confidential.