Sunday, September 21, 2008

Children and Escalators


One of my four-year-old twins and I were heading up the escalator at Barnes & Noble yesterday when he made a wrong move and started tumbling down the stairs! Fortunately, we were still close to the bottom, but his fall down four or five steps was enough to give him some serious cuts and bruises on the bottom of one foot (after his flip-flops came off; see photo) and on one knee. (I’d also like to express my disappointment in the shoppers there who no doubt saw him tumble and heard him screaming in pain, but didn’t bother to see if he was okay.) Fortunately, he is now recovering. I Googled “elevator injuries” later on and now realize how lucky my son was. I saw some really gruesome pictures where children had skin and even fingers or toes ripped off in escalator accidents. I never realized how dangerous escalators can be, especially for children.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not telling you never to go on escalators with your kids! But I do hope, like me, that you’ll be extra careful to ensure their safety whenever you use one. Hang on tightly to your children so they don’t stumble. It can be tricky trying to catch a moving step, as well as step off one. Also, I wouldn’t recommend they wear flip-flops or Crocs on an escalator, as they can become trapped and leave the bare foot exposed.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 7,300 escalator-related injuries occur in the US every year. Most of them are the result of falls, but some of them occurred when clothing or parts of the body became entrapped. Here are some safety precautions recommended by the CPSC:

• Remove drawstrings from your children’s clothing as they can become trapped in escalators. Loose shoelaces, scarves and mittens are also an entrapment hazard.
• Always hold your children’s hand on an escalator. Do not let them sit on the steps or play around an escalator.
• Do not put strollers, carts or walkers on an escalator.
• Face forward and use the handrail.
• Stand in the middle of the step, not on the edge.
• Find out where the emergency shutoff buttons are in case you need to use them. Most are at the top and the bottom of the escalator, on the right side when you’re looking up.

I’m so grateful that my son survived his fall with nothing worse than a painful foot and a new fear of escalators. I know we’ll be much more aware of the risks next time we approach one…although I have a feeling we’ll be heading for the elevators for quite some time!

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4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with the escalator. A friend's child required surgery to repair a toe after her Croc got caught in the escalator.

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  2. Whew, glad it wasn't worse!

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  3. Ouch! I always knew elevators were evil.

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  4. Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry he was hurt. I did hear about someone suing Crocs about an elevator injury.

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