Crocs Can Pose a Danger on Escalators

ByKATE SNOW via logo

Oct. 5, 2006 — -- Those big, bold gardening clogs that come in bright colors and mold to the shape of your feet seem to be everywhere these days.

The company that makes one kind of rubber clogs, Crocs, sold 6 million of them last year.

In some online chat rooms and blogs, however, parents are sharing stories about kids having accidents while wearing the shoes.

Some people have reported that kids wearing Crocs have had their feet sucked into the side of escalators.

Some businesses have even posted warning signs near their escalators saying if you're wearing Crocs, be careful.

Chloe Johnson, 10, from Kansas City, is one of those kids who had a frightening experience while wearing the shoes.

She loved her Crocs. "I wore them almost everywhere," she said.

Last year on an escalator at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, she had a huge scare.

"Chloe said, 'My toe, my toe,'" said her mother, Kay Hopkins. "And we took the Croc off and seeing the blood and seeing her toe -- it was frightening."

The escalator was crowded, and the toe of Chloe's left shoe was sucked between the escalator stair and the side wall.

"To have this happen with your child standing right next to you ends up being pretty shocking," said Chloe's father, Neil Johnson.

Chloe's foot recovered, but last month, two children wearing Crocs in Arkansas had more serious injuries.

"Imagine that you are taking a child shopping and out of the blue their foot is mangled, trapped," said James Yuen, a plastic surgeon at Arkansas Children's Hospital. "Can you imagine a child stuck for almost an hour? It is a very traumatic event."

It's not just Crocs that pose a danger -- any soft, pliable shoe, even flip-flops, can be dangerous on an escalator.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates about 10,000 people go to the emergency room every year after accidents on escalators. Of those, 20 percent involved having hands, feet or shoes trapped.

The industry has worked for years to make escalators safer, but not every state has adopted the latest codes.

Arkansas, for example, is still using regulations that date back to the early 1990s.

The makers of Crocs are designing a new tag that includes escalator safety tips.

In a statement, the company told ABC News: "Crocs shoes are completely safe. … Escalators and moving sidewalks, particularly those that have not received proper care and maintenance, can be dangerous and pose risks to their riders."

But Chloe's parents are convinced that the Crocs were an important factor in her accident.

"They did have the escalator inspected, and everything was running, functioning well," said Chloe's mother.

About 245 million people ride escalators every day, and only a small number of incidents have been reported, so it's not an epidemic.

But to be safe, experts say parents should make sure children ride in the center of the escalator step.

Parents of small children should carry them, and kids should not run their foot along the wall -- that creates friction and heat, which could explain why the Crocs seem to melt around the edge of the step.

And remember that escalators are now outfitted with emergency stop buttons.

If you run into trouble, you can shut it down pretty quickly.

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