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FAQs for Media

For your reference, we've assembled answers to the most common media questions about mattress and bedroom safety. Click a question to read its answer. If you have a question that's not addressed here, you can email it to us at spscweb@safesleep.org, and we will respond to you promptly.

 

 

What is the mattress industry doing to address the issue of mattress flammability?

In the early 1970s, the mattress industry worked with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop the first standard in mattress flammability – the 1973 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard, which requires that all mattresses made or sold in the United States resist ignition from a lighted cigarette. This flammability standard has been quite successful. In addition, the Sleep Products Safety Council (SPSC) continues to work with regulators to develop effective, workable standards and with scientists to make sleep products safer. Read more about SPSC's Prevention and Safety Efforts.

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What is the Sleep Products Safety Council doing to promote mattress fire safety?

We've undertaken a number of public education programs over the years. One that has been embraced by the industry is the safety hangtag program. This informational tag, which manufacturers typically attach to mattresses, warns consumers of potential fire and safety hazards that can result from the improper use of sleep products. It also offers guidance for home fire protection and actions that should be taken if a fire occurs. The safety hangtag is available in two versions:  English/Spanish and English/French.

Life-saving information also reaches consumers through SPSC-sponsored media campaigns. In addition, we regularly collaborate with organizations that share our safety concerns. Recent partners include the U.S. Fire Administration, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Candle Association, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, and the Lighter Association.

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Is the Sleep Products Safety Council doing anything else to promote safety among mattress manufacturers?

Yes. Our Combustibility Database (CD) hotline helps manufacturers meet the flammability requirements for mattresses that will be used in commercial, institutional, and high-risk settings. These include prisons, hotels, healthcare facilities, and dormitories. Free for use, our database includes up-to-date information on regulations, tests, policies, statutes, and code requirements for all 50 states and six major metropolitan jurisdictions. We also sponsors educational conferences for the industry that promote safety improvements among mattress manufacturers.

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How can consumers reduce their risk of a mattress fire?

Effective July 1, 2007, mattresses sold in the United States must meet standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that require the products to resist ignition from both a smoldering cigratette and an open-flame heat source (such as a lighter, match or candle).  Consumers should confirm whether the mattress they use meets both of these standards.  If not, you should consider buying a new mattress that does meet these safety requirements and properly disposing of your old mattress.

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Why are older Americans at greater risk of mattress-related fires and deaths?

For starters, seniors are more likely to have mattresses that are 20 years or older in their homes – in other words, mattresses that don't meet established safety standards. They are also vulnerable for other reasons: they may be less able to take quick action in a fire emergency and may be on medication that affects their ability to make quick decisions. Others live alone and simply have no one to help out when fire-related accidents happen.

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How can parents protect their children from fire?

Children are one of the highest risk groups for death or injury in residential fires. Every year, 800 children ages nine and under die in home fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Most children know that playing with matches and lighters is wrong. So what do they do? They hide in closets, or under beds or blankets, and play there, potentially turning a peaceful home into a tinderbox in minutes. Parents need to lock away matches and lighters and throw away old lighters. A child's fascination with fire frequently outweighs his or her judgment.

Establishing a fire escape plan is also important, as well as installing a working smoke detector on each floor of the house. After the kitchen, bedrooms are the most likely places for a fire to originate. In addition, parents should keep doors, particularly bedroom doors, closed – a shut door can help keep out or contain smoke and flames, giving family members precious seconds to escape.

Finally, parents should make sure portable heaters are at least three feet from bedding, curtains, and clothes. And they should watch that electric cords don't get trapped where heat can build up, particularly between the bed and the wall. For those who like electric blankets, they should use ones that are lab-approved.

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