Category Archives: Safety Tips

Portable Pools Pose Real Safety Risks, Study Says

Portable pools have been capable of turning any ordinary backyard into a summertime paradise for generations. But a new safety study provides a somber reminder that water is water — whether it’s six inches in an inflatable pool or six feet in an in-ground model — so parents, caregivers, and kids need to take heed: “Every five days a child drowns in a portable pool during the summer in the U.S.”

The report, prepared by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at over 200 accidental drowning deaths of children under the age of 12, linked to different kinds of portable pools, from 2001 to 2009.  A press release from the Center quotes the senior author of the study, Dr. Gary A. Smith, on what may be the key disconnect when it comes to understanding the safety risks inherent in even the smallest portable pools: “Because portable pools are generally small, inexpensive and easy to use, parents often do not think about the potential dangers these pools present.” So precautions that have become standard protocol when it comes to larger in-ground pools — like the use of safety fences and gates surrounding the pool — may not even be considered for smaller, portable pools.

Portable pools run the gamut from $100 inflatable models (really more like small ponds) in which the water level doesn’t get more than a few inches deep, to larger and more sturdy pools that can hold thousands of gallons of water. What all portable pools seem to have in common, according to the study, is that under the right (or wrong) circumstances, they can pose the same risk of drowning and submersion injuries as larger in-ground and stationary pools. You can read a free online version of the study, Submersion Events in Portable Above-Ground Pools in the U.S., 2001-2009, from Pediatrics, the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To learn more, check out this Press Release and Portable Pool Safety Fact Sheet from the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

New Product Safety Database Launched by CPSC

A new product safety information database has been launched by the federal government, giving consumers a one-stop online portal to report and research hazards in almost every kind of product under the retail sun. The was launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on March 13.

You can use the new database to:

  • report any actual injury caused by a consumer product,
  • report on safety risks you’ve noticed in certain dangerous products, and
  • research the safety record of products you own or are thinking about buying.


So, how does the product safety risk reporting system work? After a consumer submits an online report to — detailing an injury or safety hazard linked to a product — CPSC reviews the report to make sure it contains all required information. Qualifying reports are then sent to the product’s manufacturer, and that company has 10 days to respond to and/or comment on the consumer’s claims about the product’s safety. After those 10 days, the consumer’s report and the manufacturer’s response are posted on the database. (Manufacturers can also register their companies on using the Business Portal.)

You can learn more about the new in this Q&A from CPSC.


Child Safety Seats: New Guidelines for Parents

New federal guidelines on child passenger safety advise parents to keep their kids in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, to keep them as safe as possible in a vehicle accident.

The new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines come on the heels of a recent American Academy of Pediatrics study, which looked at safety data on car accidents involving young children, and concluded that parents should keep kids in rear-facing seats until they’re at least two years old or have clearly outgrown the seat. In short, parents shouldn’t treat their kids’ graduation to a forward-facing seat as an age-based milestone. As the NHTSA puts it, “there is no need to hurry to transition a child to the next restraint type.”

You can read the press statement and new age-based child passenger safety guidelines on the NHTSA’s website, but here’s an outline for parents and caregivers to follow:

  • Birth to 12 Months: Always keep your child in a rear-facing car seat.
  • 1 Year to 3 Years: Keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. New studies show that a rear-facing seat is the best option for keeping your child safe in a car accident.
  • 4 Years to 7 Years: Your child should be kept in a forward-facing car seat equipped with a harness, until they’ve outgrown the seat.
  • 8 Years to 12 Years: Use a booster seat until your child is big enough to use a seat belt properly.


The new child safety seat recommendations are largely based on a combination of two factors that are unique to a young child’s physical development: disproportionately large heads, and bones and musculature that may not be up to the task of providing adequate support for the head in an accident.

For more help understanding and complying with child restraint laws, check out and this Child Safety Portal from the NHTSA and this Chart of State-by-State Child Passenger Safety Laws.


Drop-Side Cribs Banned by U.S. Government

Drop-side cribs have been banned under new federal safety regulations announced Wednesday (December 15, 2010) by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Some are calling it the end of an era, given the drop-side crib’s huge and decades-long popularity, but others are calling the ban long overdue. In the last nine years, defective cribs have been blamed for the deaths of at least 32 children, and millions of cribs have been recalled during that time — with many of those recalls involving defects in the drop-side mechanism of different cribs.

The ban applies to the sale, manufacture, and re-selling of any drop-side crib. Service businesses that use or offer cribs (such as day care centers and hotels) will have one year to comply with the ban, by replacing any drop-side cribs with safe and CPSC-approved fixed-side models.

The CPSC recently described the dangers of drop-side cribs this way: “When drop-side hardware breaks or deforms, the drop side can detach in one or more corners from the crib. If an infant or toddler rolls or moves into the space created by a partially detached drop side, the child can become entrapped or wedged between the crib mattress and the drop side and suffocate. Infants can also strangle in the “V” shape formed by a drop side that detaches in an upper corner.”

To learn more about crib safety standards, recent recalls, and how to make sure that your child’s crib is safe, check out Nolo’s recent article Crib Recalls, Safety, and Litigation.

For parents and caregivers who want to ensure that cribs and other baby furniture are up to safety standards — and not subject to any recent recalls — the CPSC has set up a special online Crib Information Center at


Halloween Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

If there’s one thing that’s less exciting to get on Halloween than pennies and raisins, it’s tips on keeping things safe. But October 31 is right around the corner, and for kids there’s the good kind of scared (ghoulish costumes and haunted houses) while parents and homeowners get the bad kind — the dangers posed by certain costumes, questionable candy, dark streets, and unsafe property.

So at the risk of donning a Debbie Downer costume this year, here’s an old pillowcase full of safety tips for trick-or-treaters, parents and caregivers, and homeowners who are getting ready for Halloween.

Costumes: Make sure costumes and accessories are flame-resistant. Avoid really baggy costumes that can pose a tripping hazard. For greater visibility — especially since it gets darker earlier this time of year — use flashlights and apply reflective tape to darker costumes.

Candy and Treats: Parents and caregivers should always inspect their young trick-or-treaters’ haul of candy for evidence of tampering or anything that looks suspicious. One good rule of thumb is to avoid any treats that don’t appear to be factory-wrapped.

For Homeowners: Keep all walkways, stairs, lawns, and driveways well-lit and free of obstacles. Also, make sure any candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and all other open flames are attended at all times and out of reach of young kids. Otherwise you could be starring in your own personal horror film: The Attack of the Premises Liability Lawsuit.

For Pedestrians and Drivers: Trick-or-treaters and other pedestrians should stay on sidewalks and other designated walkways at all times, and only go up to homes that are well-lit or show other signs that trick-or-treaters are welcome. Drivers should use extra caution and drive slowly in any neighborhood where kids might be out trick-or-treating, and be especially vigilant for pedestrians crossing the street outside of the usual crossing areas.

Get more Halloween safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Related information from Nolo: