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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently issued mandatory guidelines regulating drawstring safety on children's upper outwear, such as sweatshirts and winter coats.
Though the rules have been voluntary since 1997, the agency states that, in addition to conducting 115 recalls, it has still received 26 reports of a child dying after his jacket drawstring became caught in a vehicle or on a piece of playground equipment.
Under the now-mandatory drawstring safety rules, children's upper outwear in sizes 2T through 16 with neck, hood, and certain waist drawstrings will be considered substantial product hazards, allowing the CPSC to force mandatory recalls and order Customs and Border Protection to keep such products out of the country.
To prevent strangulation, the mandatory guidelines state that upper outerwear hoods and necks in sizes 2T through 12 cannot be affixed with drawstrings, but instead require snaps, buttons, Velcro, elastic, or another alternative.
For sizes 2T through 16, drawstrings around a child's waist are not to be more than 3 inches long when pulled to their full width, and also must be sewn in so that they do not become longer on one side. They must also not contain toggles or knots near the ends.
The goal of this latter requirement is to prevent children from becoming caught in vehicle doors or dragged by moving objects.
Because drawstring safety rules have been voluntary up until this time, you should consider evaluating your child's clothing to determine whether or not they pose a safety risk.