NORTHBROOK, Ill., July 14, 2009 — The clothes fit, backpacks are filled, and lunches are packed; but, according to Underwriters Laboratories (UL), parents might want to consider one more thing before sending their children back to school – safety. Each year, children sustain an estimated 14 million potentially-disabling unintentional injuries in the U.S.  UL – an independent product safety organization – is providing parents with important tips to share with their children before they head back to school this fall.

A new national UL Safety Smart® Survey reveals that 90 percent of parents feel responsible for supplying their children with safety information.  At the same time, nine out of 10 children grades K-5 rely on their parents for safety information to keep them safe.

According to UL’s survey, though, it’s possible that not all the correct safety information is being communicated to children.  While the overwhelming majority of children said they would know exactly what to do if there was an emergency, they did not choose the safest option. When asked what their reactions would be in the event of a fire, only 47 percent of children knew to get out of the building right away, and nearly half would put themselves in serious danger by trying to call 911 (26 percent) first or trying to find a parent or teacher  (22 percent).

"The reality is that accidents happen, so identifying and taking advantage of teachable moments can go a long way toward preventing accidents that are all too often avoidable," says John Drengenberg, director of Consumer Safety at Underwriters Laboratories. "The back to school time is the perfect opportunity to test your child’s ‘safety IQ’ and provide opportunities to help them learn and practice safe behaviors at home, school and beyond."

To help parents convey the most accurate safety information to their children, UL is providing parents with safety tips and asking them to take advantage of the back-to-school time to reinforce safety with their children:

  • GET OUT and STAY OUT — Make certain that your child knows that the first thing they should do in the event of a fire is to get out of the building. Reinforce fire safety by discussing the importance of learning and participating in fire escape drills at home and at school. 
  • GO LOW and KNOW — Physically lower yourself to your child’s point of view and search each room for objects or situations that may endanger them. For example, teach them not to put their fingers or any objects in uncovered electrical outlets, or cover them with plastic outlet covers.
  • PLAY it SAFE — Talk to your child about the safe way to play on the playground equipment. Make sure your child knows to use both hands on swings, slide down the slide feet first and not to stand on the see-saw.

"The survey demonstrates that more work needs to be done to prevent accidents and help prepare our children to know what to do whenever there’s an emergency," said Drengenberg. "With a few well placed lessons and a little encouragement, parents can go a long way toward not only preventing accidents, but demonstrating the importance of safe behavior that could last a lifetime."

For a complete safety checklist, visit www.ul.com/consumers.

Survey Methodology

The Safety Smart® Survey was conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Underwriters Laboratories, between April 16 – 23, 2009, using the phone, an email invitation and an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 5.6 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.