Children's Sleepwear Flammability Concerns
Recently the Injury Prevention Program was contacted by the
American Burn Association
to help fight a battle on the behalf of our children. This battle concerns the
Consumer Product Safety Commission's action to
relax the existing children's sleepwear
flammability standard. We would like to inform you of the possible danger lurking in
our children's sleepwear.
November 10, 1997
Dear Burn Center Medical Director:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted on April 30, 1996 to
relax the existing children's sleepwear flammability standard under the
Flammable Fabrics Act. These relaxed standards became effective on January
1, 1997 and have the potential to increase the number of childhood injuries
and deaths resulting from burns associated with children's sleepwear. The
American Burn Association Burn Prevention Committee and the Safe Children's
Sleepwear Coalition are asking for you help to persuade the CPSC to reverse
this decision. Consumers, and many educators, are unaware of the changes and
may assume the sleepwear they are purchasing remains flame resistant as it
has been for 25 years. As burn care practitioners concerned with burn prevention
for children, we must work together to force an immediate repeal of the relaxed
standards. Please read the article "Children's Sleepwear: Relaxation of the
Consumer Product Safety Commission's Flammability Standards" in the
September/October issue of the Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation and the
attached sleepwear fact sheet to understand the significance of the changes and
their associated impact.
When the CPSC proposed the relaxed standards, the American Apparel Manufactures
Association (AAMA) promised an extensive awareness and educational effort for
consumers and sales personnel. Garments designed to be worn as sleepwear were
to be identified with cautionary hangtags and neck labels. The AAMA has failed
to provide this promised labeling and education.
In addition, manufacturers and retailers are having a difficult time meeting
the sizing requirements for "tight-fitting" garments that are being substituted
for fire retardant sleepwear. The industry has requested a 27 month extension to
March 1999 to comply with the CPSC's sizing requirements for tight fitting
sleepwear garments. In the meantime, our nation's children continue to be at
increased risk for sleepwear related burn injuries and deaths.
You can help by contacting Commissioner Thomas Hill Moore, US CPSC,
4330 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, telephone 301-504-0290 or
fax 301-504-0813 to voice your concern about the relaxed standards. A sample
letter is enclosed, but please use your own words, citing specific examples
if you have them, when writing him. Encourage other members of your burn team
to participate with this effort. A member of the ABA Burn Prevention Committee
will be contacting you in the next few weeks to answer any questions and encourage
you to participate in the effort to repeal the relaxed sleepwear flammability
standards. Representatives from the Safe Children's Sleepwear Coalition will
be contacting Burn Foundations, key fire service organizations, and others
who are concerned about these relaxed standards to join our efforts to encourage
an immediate repeal of the relaxed standards. We must all take an active role in
preventing burn injuries and deaths to children.
John O. Jucan, MD
Chair, ABA Burn Prevention Committee
Janet Cusick, RN
Vice-chair, ABA Burn Prevention Committee
Sample Letter to CPSC
The Honorable Thomas H. Moore, Commissioner
United States Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Dear Commissioner Moore:
I have just recently learned of the CPSC's decision to relax the flammability
standards for children's sleepwear. America's children have been protected from
the risk of fire from their sleepwear for nearly twenty-five years. The decision
by the Commission may put infants and children at a higher risk from burns.
Available injury and death data demonstrates that the sleepwear standard was working.
There have been few injuries or deaths involving ignition of children's sleepwear
since the enactment of the standard nearly twenty-five years ago. This low level
of injuries and deaths can primarily be attributed to the established sleepwear
It is the Commission's responsibility under the flammable Fabrics Act to
protect the public against unreasonable risk of fire leading to death, injury
or significant property damage. The Commission's decision to relax the sleepwear
flammability standards now places infants and children at potentially higher risk
for burn injury.
The CPSC had assured concerned individuals that there would be an extensive
awareness and educational campaign developed and disseminated for consumers
and sales personnel regarding the changes and the risk of non-flame resistant
sleepwear. This lack of consumer education, as promised by the manufacturers
apparel industry, makes it difficult for consumers to obtain accurate information
about safe sleepwear choices. This may result in consumers making uniformed decisions
which could jeopardize the well-being of their children. As a regulatory agency, the
CPSC has the responsibility to provide clear, concise, accurate information to
consumers. The initial requirement for clear and conspicuous warning labeling of
non-flame resistant garments has also been removed from the amendments making it
more difficult for consumers to differentiate between flame resistant and non-flame
resistant garments at the point of sale.
As a member of the health care profession (burn team, fire service, other)
who must deal with the pain, suffering and cost of burn injuries on a daily
basis, I urge you to please reconsider this matter and take steps to bring
back the previous standards that were clearly working to prevent death and
disfigurement for numerous young children. There is no need to change what is
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Children's Sleepwear Flammability Fact Sheet
America's Children have been protected from the risk of burn injuries and deaths
caused by ignition of their sleepwear for nearly 25 years. The recent decision by
the Consumer Product Safety Commission to relax the Children's Sleepwear Flammability
Standards may put infants and children at a higher risk from burns. Available injury
and death data demonstrates that the sleepwear standard was working. The low level of
burn injuries and deaths associated with children's sleepwear can primarily be
attributed to the established sleepwear standards. Why change something that is
The American Burn Association adopted this position Statement Regarding
Children's sleepwear Flammability Standards in March, 1997. As members of
the Burn Team, please support this position.
The recent decision of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to relax its
standard for flammability of children's sleepwear is disappointing and ill-conceived.
This standard has proven to be effective in protecting the lives of our nation's
children against clothing fires. The two-to-one decision to relax the flammability
standards by the CPSC commissioners has removed or seriously reduced needed protection
for a highly vulnerable group.
The previous, more stringent standards have been effective in preventing death
and disfigurement for hundreds of our nation's infants and young children. The
American Burn Association strongly opposes the recently relaxed standards and
believes that their repeal is critical to the health and welfare of our nation's
Do You Know...
It is estimated there has been a tenfold decrease in the number of deaths
associated with children's sleepwear since enactment of children's sleepwear
The relaxed standards:
- Allow tight-fitting garments such as long underwear to be sold as sleepwear
- Allow sale of all types of non-flame resistant garments for infants aged nine
months and under
Flame resistant material such as %100 polyester:
- Is resistant to ignition by small flames
- Is more difficult to ignite than untreated cotton
- Self-extinguishes after exposure to a small flame
- Shrinks away from heat sources
- Flames travel more slowly and cover a smaller area
- Upward flame spread tends to be slow, sparing the face and respiratory system
- Flame resistance does not diminish with repeated laundering
Non-flame resistant materials including untreated cotton and cotton blends:
- Ignite at a lower temperature than polyester and other flame resistant fabrics
- Continues to burn even after ignition source is removed
- Flames spread rapidly
- Flames spread upward increasing the risk of burns to the face and inhalation injury
Loose fitting garments such as oversized T-shirts
- Easily come in contact with flame source
- Loose fitting parts burn rapidly with relatively large flames
Alternative to Flame Resistant Sleepwear
Tight Fitting Garments, Long Underwear and Ski Pajamas
- Reduces the risk of contact with flames
- Decreases air between the garment and the child. Air is required for flaming
- Must fit tightly at wrist, ankel and waist
- Must be almost skin tight
- Must be purchased to fit the child now, not large to fit later
- Burn injuries may be less severe with tight-fitting garments than with looser fitting garments
What if Your Child's Clothing Catches on Fire?
- Stop, drop and Roll. All children should know how to do this. Practise with them often.
- Remove clothing from the burned area. If the material sticks to the skin,
cool it, and leave it alone
- Cool the burned area for a short time with cool, not cold water. Never put ice
or cold water on a burn. Ice and cold water can make the burn worse
- Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth. Keep the child warm and calm
- Call 911 or other emergency number. Seek medical attention.
Information in this webpage has been provided by the American Burn Association and
Via Christi Regional Medical Center, Wichita, KS.
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There's no doubt about it--hot water heaters provide lots of comfort and convenience through warm baths and clean clothes. Remember, however, that hot water can also cause serious burns. Hot water burns are 100% preventable if you follow these tips from the Burn Prevention Foundation:
- Keep hot liquids out of the reach of children. When hot coffee or tea (usually over 160°) is spilled, it can cause severe injury. Be sure to watch babies and toddlers carefully while you are cooking or enjoying a hot drink.
- Supervise children and older people in tub baths. Always test their bath water; it should be about 100°. Kids often can't tell the hot from cold water faucets and may not be able to get out of hot water quickly. Elderly and handicapped people are more fragile and prone to falling.
- Set your water heater thermostat at a safe level. Many are set at 140° or above. Set your thermostat on low (approx.120°) to be safe and to save 18% of the energy used at 140°.
- Test your water temperature. Run the hot water for 3-5 minutes and test with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Reset the temperature on hour water heater. Wait a day and the retest and adjust, if necessary. And, to conserve water, be sure to repair leaky faucets promptly. One drop a second can waste as much as 60 gallons of hot or cold water in a week.
The Safe America Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to injury prevention and the practice of good safety habits through the distribution of safety products and innovative educational programs. For more information call: 770-218-0071 or email: email@example.com
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