Crocs shoes, those clunky, colorful clogs popular with kids and gardeners, may pose an added safety risk on escalators.
This month, the medical journal Injury Prevention
reports that between May and August, 40 escalator injuries in Japan have been linked to Crocs or similarly made rubbery clogs. The no-skid appeal of the shoes has apparently resulted in some shoes getting caught in the front or side of a moving escalator step. Most injuries were minor, but in one case, a 5-year-old girl broke her middle toe.
Closer to home, local television stations and bloggers also have reported on several escalator injuries to kids who were wearing Crocs. In August, the blog Wisebread ran pictures
of a mangled Croc shoe and a little girl’s bloodied toes, both allegedly the aftermath of an escalator accident. And one Web site, CrocsAccidents
, is devoted entirely to injuries that occur while kids are wearing Crocs.
A Crocs spokeswoman says that Crocs are safe to wear, and that the popularity of the shoes has drawn attention to the “long-existing issue” of escalator safety.
With some 50 million pairs of Crocs sold around the world and relatively few accidents reported, the individual risk of an escalator-related accident seems slim. The real lesson here is that escalators remain a worrisome source of injuries for kids, whether it’s due to clothing, shoelaces or Crocs getting caught in the moving stairs.
The Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates
there are about 7,500 escalator accidents requiring hospitalization annually in the United States. That translates, roughly, into about one person hospitalized each year for every five escalators.
The agency estimates that 75 percent of escalator injuries result from falls and 20 percent from entrapment at the bottom or top of an escalator, or between a moving stair and escalator sidewall. (Another 5 percent are due to other causes.) Injuries that involve getting caught in an escalator typically are more serious than falls. About half of the approximately 1,000 sidewall-entrapment injuries involve children under age 5, according to the commission. Those injuries result mostly from a child’s hands or footwear (including dangling shoelaces) becoming caught in a comb plate at the top or bottom of an escalator, or in the space between moving stairs and an escalator sidewall.
Last year, a study
in the medical journal Pediatrics reported that from 1990 to 2002, an estimated 26,000 American children ages 19 and younger were treated in hospital emergency rooms for an escalator-related injury. Children younger than age 5 had the largest number of injuries (12,000). More than 700 kids were involved in stroller accidents on escalators.
Parents must watch their kids on escalators, no matter what kind of shoes the tots are wearing. Make sure that the shoelaces are tied (if there are laces); that the children are standing in the center of the escalator, away from the sides; and pay attention when a child is disembarking. And never take strollers on an escalator.