The Dangers of Drawstrings

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Drawstrings on children’s clothing aren’t safe. Here’s why and what you can do if your child’s clothing has them.

13-year-old Brandi Browder died when the drawstring on her coat snagged on the school bus handrail as she stepped off the bus. She fell, the bus drove off, and Brandi was killed. Her tragic death provided momentum to efforts to regulate and ban drawstrings on children’s clothing.

Over the two decades following Brandi’s death, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has developed and strengthened safety standards regarding children’s clothing drawstrings, as these pose strangulation as well as entanglement risks. These standards began as guidelines and voluntary standards in the mid-1990s; in 2011, CPSC issued a stronger, federal regulation about these dangerous drawstrings.

According to this regulation children’s upper outerwear – coats, jackets, and sweatshirts, sizes 2T to 12 – should not have drawstrings at the head or neck. Additionally, drawstrings at the bottom of these garments (sizes 2T to 16) should not extend more than three inches and should be free of toggles and other attachments. These rules have dramatically decreased fatalities due to drawstrings.

Despite these safety standards, companies continue to make children’s clothes with unsafe drawstrings. While most dangerous products cannot be easily modified for safety, drawstrings are the exception to the rule. The solution for parents is simple; cut the drawstrings or pull them out to make the garment safe.

To help keep other children safe, share this information with a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver. In addition, remember to report any new clothes with drawstrings to SaferProducts.gov.

 

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