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Consumer Group Offers Booklet on ‘Hidden Hazards’

September 1, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Americans could make themselves safer if they avoided 10 ″hidden hazards″ in everyday life, ranging from five-gallon buckets to grassy playgrounds, a consumer group said Wednesday.

The Coalition for Consumer Health and Safety released a booklet identifying these hazards - some of which are actually widely known but often ignored, such as the effects of alcohol and secondhand tobacco smoke.

″We are asking consumers to make a pledge to work with us in prevention - prevention of tragedies that can be avoided,″ said Gladys M. Campbell, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and member of the coalition’s board.

Among the lesser-known hazards in the booklet: Playground equipment installed over hard surfaces, including grass. The coalition urged parents to seek playgrounds that use safe surfaces, such as wood chips, mulch or synthetic material.

″Each year, more than 200,000 children are injured by playground falls,″ said Mary Ellen Fise, product safety director for the Consumer Federation of America.

The booklet also warns about baby walkers, which enable children to reach dangerous things they might not otherwise be able to get their hands on.

″A walker can go four feet per second,″ Fise said. ″They can move extremely fast and it only takes a second or two to get away.″

One out of every three children who use walkers is injured, and baby gates are not an effective barrier, she said.

Five-gallon buckets also pose a problem to small children, who can fall into them and drown, even in just a few inches of water, she said. Each year, 50 children drown in these buckets, Fise said.

The booklet also alerts people about light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles, which are more likely to roll over than cars. It tells how to obtain a free booklet rating these vehicles.

The 10 hazards listed in the booklet:

1. Rollover crashes in sport and utility vehicles.

2. Failure to use lap belts in cars.

3. Infant drownings in five-gallon buckets.

4. Falls from playground equipment.

5. Falls and burns caused by baby walkers.

6. Poisoning from improperly cooked foods.

7. The effects of secondhand tobacco smoke.

8. The risks of excessive drinking.

9. Sexually transmitted diseases from improper contraceptive use.

10. Not wearing bicycle helmets.

The 10 hazards are not ranked and were selected as ″ones we felt people didn’t necessarily know about,″ said Glenn Soden, customer relations officer with Nationwide Insurance Companies.

The coalition is an umbrella group that includes national consumer, health and insurer groups working together to education the public and promote federal policy.

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Consumers may obtain one free copy of the brochure by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Hidden Hazards, Consumer Federation of America, 1424 16th St., N.W., Suite 604, Washington, DC 20036.

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