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July 01,  2003

Clothing-Related Burn Injuries to Children are Focus of New Data Collection Tool

New CPSC System is Cooperative Effort with American Burn Association, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the National Association of State Fire Marshals


(SafetyAlerts) -Safety experts have a new tool to get a more accurate count of burns related to children's clothing thanks to a new data collection system launched today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Developed in cooperation with the American Burn Association and Shriners Hospitals for Children, the new National Burn Center Reporting System collects comprehensive burn reports on children under age 15 from the approximately 115 burn centers nationwide that treat children, according to CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. Under the new system, burn centers will report incidents involving the ignition, melting or smoldering of clothing worn by children.

In a related, complementary effort, the National Association of State Fire Marshals is working cooperatively with the commission to retrieve and preserve children's clothing involved in burn injuries - an action that greatly enhances the investigative process. Garments collected by fire officials will be forwarded to the commission's Bethesda, Md., headquarters for inspection. At the suggestion of the NASFM, a committee consisting of the National Volunteer Fire Council, National Fire Protection Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and NASFM was formed to develop a protocol for use by "first responders" across the country.

"One of our top priorities is to keep families safe from fires," Stratton said. "We want sound science and solid data to be the basis for decisions we make on regulatory strategies. The National Burn Center Reporting System will give us a more complete picture of the most serious clothing-related burns to children and help us prevent or reduce burn incidents in the future."

"This new system should give researchers confidence that clothing- related burns to children will be captured," Stratton said. For each of the incidents reported, the burn center will provide the commission preliminary information on the incident and patient identification. A commission investigator will be assigned to the case to conduct an in-depth investigation, interviewing the victim where possible, as well as parents, fire officials and medical personnel as necessary. All reports will be reviewed and logged into the commission's epidemiological databases.

The commission has relied on injury reports supplied by a probability sample of about 100 hospital emergency rooms nationwide to produce national estimates for specific product categories including children's clothing. The system, called the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, is the most comprehensive injury data collection system in the world. The burn center reports will augment the injury surveillance data by providing additional, more specific, detail.

The National Burn Center Reporting System collects data exclusively from burn centers that treat children, providing a more complete sample of serious burn injuries. "This additional reporting tool supplements data collected by our other systems and enhances our ability to measure the number of clothing-related burn injuries to children," Stratton said. "The American Burn Association is pleased with the serious commitment of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a new, permanent reporting system for burn incidents involving children," said David Herndon, MD, past association president and current chief of staff of Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas.

"Shriners Hospitals for Children handles hundreds of pediatric burn injuries in the U.S. each year," said John D. VerMaas, chairman of the board of trustees for Shriners Hospitals. "We're very excited about working with the CPSC in its collection of data."

Donald Bliss, president of the National Association of State Fire Marshals, said, "our primary focus is on preventing fires from occurring in the first place. The current data pertaining to injuries are a critical factor in determining how to effectively reduce the number of clothing related fires. Our hope is that information gathered as a result of the National Burn Center Reporting System will aid the commission in its efforts. We're proud to be part of this program." The data being collected will be available for all interested parties to analyze through the commission's National Injury Information Clearinghouse.

Source: CPSC

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