The University Record, March 14, 1994

U evaluates safety of play slides

The Housing Division has asked Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (OSEH) staff to evaluate three spiral slides and 25 other standard metal slides on playgrounds that are part of Family Housing.

The evaluation is being conducted in light of the accidental death in January of 5-year-old Nancy Sibley, according to Alan J. Levy, director of public affairs and information for the Housing Division. The girl choked to death when the drawstring on her jacket’s hood caught on a spiral slide at Pittsfield Elementary School.

“We have not had a serious accident on our slides,” Levy says, “but we do take this tragedy seriously and want to determine the most appropriate action.”

Child care facility staff are working with parents to make sure parents and children are aware of the possible dangers in the design of children’s clothing that can entrap a child during play, Levy adds. University slides are still in use.

The Pittsfield School Parent Council has joined Thelma Sibley’s efforts to get the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of her daughter and to establish and enforce safety regulations for clothing and playground equipment manufacturers. Sibley also is working to make parents, schools, pediatricians and day-care givers across the country aware of the dangers of drawstrings and other design features of their children’s clothing.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Supt. John O. Simpson has banned indefinitely the use of all slides on the district’s property and has ordered the removal of 38 spiral and tubular slides. He also sent a letter to parents asking that they review with their children the potential hazards of leaving coats unzipped, scarves loose and strings untied.