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Jackets’ Tangled Drawstrings Spell Danger

The death of an Ohio eighth-grader is spurring action on an easily overlooked hazard: drawstrings at the waists of children’s jackets.

Beginning today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will advise manufacturers and parents to shorten cords, stitch down strings and remove the toggles that reportedly have contributed to accidents, injuries and deaths.

The guidelines are a follow-up to an effort last year in which dozens of children’s clothing manufacturers agreed to stop putting drawstrings on hoods and necklines.

The CPSC is going a step further by trying to alert parents, stores and garment makers to the 17 children killed and 42 children injured in the last decade because of tangled drawstrings at the neckline and elsewhere.

Brandi Browder was getting off a school bus in front of her Beavercreek, Ohio, home earlier this year when one end of the cord on her coat became hooked on the bus handrail. The 13-year-old was dragged under the vehicle and killed.

The death inspired Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, to investigate the safety of school buses and push for repairs of the tiny gap between the bus rails and walls. And Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Ohio, asked the CPSC this summer to expand its drawstring neckline initiative and investigate the dangers of drawstrings that dangle below the waist.

Brandi’s mother planned to join DeWine, Hobson and CPSC Chairman Ann Brown at a news conference today.

DeWine said he’d be willing to consider further action making the new guidelines mandatory, but he believes the manufacturers should first be given a chance to make the changes on their own.