Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Is there anything cuter than a small child in a pair of cotton pajamas? While such innocent clothing items may seem safe, a burning spark from a fireplace can change your views. Prior to 1972, an average of 60 children died every year as a result of pajamas that caught on fire. Then, in 1972, the Consumer Products Safety Commission mandated fire standards for children's pajamas. Impressively, the average dropped to fewer than four per year. In 1996, however, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) changed the standards and once again, cotton is used in sleepwear for infants and in sleepwear in children's sizes up to 14 years old. Sadly, the numbers of children being injured by pajamas is now again on the rise. Safety checklist Use the following checklist when choosing your child's sleepwear. This checklist is derived from CPSC standards: 1. Use only flame-retardant sleepwear if possible. All fabric which has a flame-retardant will have an applicable label. Fabrics such as polyesters are normally the best. 2. Never use cotton blends if possible. Cotton is the most susceptible fabric with regard to igniting quickly. It burns faster and is harder to extinguish than any fabric. In addition, it has a so-called "self-propagating" tendency which may cause it to re-ignite after the flames have seemingly been extinguished. 3. If not flame-retardant, use snugly-fitting sleepwear only. Although only flame-resistant fabric should be used in children's sleepwear, you may find yourself only able to find non-fire-resistant fabrics for your children. If that is the case, then make sure that you choose only snug-fitting sleepwear. Such garments are made of stretchy material that fit extremely close to the child's body. Snug-fitting sleepwear is less likely than loose T-shirts to come in contact with a flame and does not ignite as easily or burn as rapidly because there is little air under the garment to feed a fire. Note: As of June 2000, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has required all manufacturers of snug-fitting cotton sleepwear to attach to the clothing either hangtags or a permanent affixed label to remind consumers that the garment is NOT flame-resistant and needs to fit snugly for safety. 4. Always have a smoke detector. Check its functioning and change batteries twice a year. The easiest way to remember is to change the batteries on the day you switch from Daylight Savings Time. 5. Do not allow your children to sleep in clothes that are not designed for that purpose. Children often want to sleep in garments such as T-shirts, football jerseys, or even ballerina outfits. It is better to not give them permission to do so, as it is sometimes difficult to estimate how flammable those materials may be. Don Keenan is a nationally recognized child advocate and founder of Keenan's Kids Foundation (www.keenanskidsfoundtion.com), a non-profit organization that campaigns for child safety. His recently published book, 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe (Balloon Press, 2006), is available at: www.balloonpress.com or www.