Scarf ban up for discussion after playground choking incident
After a six-year-old Calgary girl choked when a piece of her clothing got caught on a set of playground monkey bars, parents are debating whether scarves and other garments should be banned from school playgrounds.
"Until we can figure something out, it will be discussed," O.S. Geiger parent council chair Davina Riston told CTV Calgary on Tuesday. "This is one thing we never even thought about happening here."
On Monday, a Grade 1 student was rushed to Alberta's Children's Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police say the girl's scarf got caught on playground equipment, choking her and leaving her unconscious.
"The sad part is, it could have been anybody's kid," Riston said. "It's devastating."
The Calgary Board of Education said supervisors were on the playground at the time of the incident.
To reduce the risk of choking and suffocation injuries, the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that parents avoid children’s clothing with drawstrings at the neck. And instead of scarves and mittens with strings, the group recommends children wear neck warmers and mitten clips.
CPS says choking and suffocation are responsible for nearly 40 per cent of unintentional injuries in infants under the age of one in Canada. The group says for every choking-related death, there are an estimated 110 children treated in hospital emergency departments for choking injuries.
The group also warns that drawstrings on children's clothing can get caught on playground equipment or in doors. From 1985 to 1999, the CPS received reports of 22 fatal and 48 nonfatal incidents involving drawstrings. Two-thirds of the incidents involved drawstrings on outerwear worn by children between two and eight years old getting caught on playground slides
Calgary schools have varying policies on the types of clothing that should be worn on playgrounds, but they don’t enforce an outright ban on certain pieces of clothing.
Pediatrician Dr. Peter Nieman said the likelihood of choking injuries increase in the winter months.
"In the winter the difference is lots of clothing, sometimes things like a scarf around the neck, or there's hoodies with strings attaches, those things can potentially strangulate a child totally unexpected."
In a statement, Alberta's education minister said he is following the situation closely.
"Certainly, our thoughts are with the student and family affected by this incident," David Eggen said in a statement. "The safety of all students is a top priority. School boards set the supervisor-to-student ratio, and student safety is their primary focus."
The Calgary Board of Education is reviewing the incident and has made a crisis team available to support students and staff at the school.
With a report from CTV Calgary