SUFFOCATION HAZARD WARNING

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Suffocation Warning Labels

At present, there is pretty broad public awareness of suffocation hazards for infants and small children associated with the use of plastic bags, and most plastic bags used today contain a suffocation warning. These warnings were developed in the wake of suffocation incidents of infants in the 1950s’. Around this time it was found that plastic bags originally from the dry cleaning industry were being used in infant beds beneath the sheets for waterproofing purposes.

Several states, including California, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, have laws that require suffocation warning labels for plastic bags. In addition, two major cities, Chicago, IL and New York, NY have adopted ordinances requiring similar warning labels for plastic bags. At least a dozen other smaller cities or towns have similar laws requiring suffocation warning labels for plastic bags. The printing technique must result in a label that will not smear. The warning must be on the bag or on a label securely attached to the bag. Canada has also implemented comparable warning requirements. The United States federal government does not presently have such a requirement. In general, the Massachusetts law is the most comprehensive and restrictive, and requires that any language, other than the warnings specifically provided by the statute, have government approval. In addition, Massachusetts requires that the warning must appear on both sides of the bag and be repeated at 20-inch intervals for bags whose length and width are more than 40 inches.

While the warning requirements are usually a box with text in English, it is also appropriate to utilize non-verbal communications in addition, such as the two symbols shown here, which can be used in color or just black ink depending on printing and materials.  They were developed by Ultimate Symbol to enhance visual reinforcement for an important safety message that some may not understand or bother to read in words alone.  They will be available in mid-2016 in the reference collection ‘Official Signs & Icons 3‘ by Ultimate Symbol.  Warning labels are typically a yellow round-cornered triangle with the hazard within.  Because of the severity of this hazard, the red (or black) slash-and-circle is utilized to enhance urgency and visibility.

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