August 14, 2007

Now We Know Where To Shred These Crocs: On The Escalator. Holy Crap.

satya_w_croc_jakarta.jpg

Not only are they fugly, they're dangerous, too? Crocs--and other soft-soled shoes like flip-flops, but as you'll see, the delta here is the spike in Crocs sales--are involved in an increasing number of escalator accidents. DT reader Jennifer points to a report a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Post:

"We've had an alarming increase of incidents of those types of shoes being stuck in the escalator," said Dave Lacosse, who oversees Metro's 588 escalators and 244 elevators and said the problems started last summer. "We were going from weeks with [no incidents], to one now and then, and now, especially in the summer, as high as three and four a week is common."
I would bet that if you're wearing flip-flops, you watch out for the escalator sides and teeth. With close-toed Crocs? Not so much.

Kids have lost toes and parts of toes in the US and abroad in Croc-related escalator accidents. [Check out this DT post from January about the overall risk to kids 0-5yo from escalators. It's mostly hands and feet, not strollers that are the danger.]

But what would an incipient product safety scandal be without a steady supply of locally reported injuries and toe amputations, a rescinded promise to a consumer safety group about a warning label, and a shifty comment from a corporate spokesperson?

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Crocs Inc. said its footwear was safe. Asked about the shoe tag and mall kiosks, spokeswoman Jessica Packard said the Niwot, Colo.-based company has determined "that the best way to raise awareness is to continue to endorse the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation and its education and prevention efforts."

The company manufactures about 6 million pairs of Crocs a month, she said. "The popularity of our shoes has helped draw attention to a long-existing issue that we think is very important -- escalator safety," Packard said in the statement.

All we need now is to find out they're made with lead-tainted pigment, which would totally throw a Croc into the playground mulch idea, too.

Soft Soles Fall Fashion Victim to Escalators [washpost, thanks to dt reader CV as well]
image: "No Rubber Shoes" sign in Jakarta, via satya.w's flickr stream [flickr]
Previously: Crocs Must Stop: The DT Crocs Playground Resurfacing Project
Q: Strollers on Escalators?

9 Comments

This type of stuff hardly deserves to be responded to, but what the hell. Crocs are no more dangerous on escalators than any other type of footware. The danger is people being careless and not paying attention to what the hell they are doing. Crocs is expanding like crazy and don't just make one shoe anymore. All this talk of calling them "fugly" and wasting time with stuff like this. You happen to be a short in the stock market betting against the stock??

[last question first, no. second to last question, is there a scientific basis for "fugly"? Did I claim there was? And you're right, to a point: is there a spike in the number of shoe-escalator injuries? I don't know. Is the % of injuries involving Crocs related to their increasing market share? To some extent. Hey, look, the Crocs PR was right! Thanks for bringing attention to escalator safety. -ed.]

Dooce will be pleased to hear the news, and not for escalator-safety reasons. I think she's firmly in the "crocs are fugly" camp.

I'm more in the "I'm not looking forward to whatever stupid fad requires that I buy stupid crap for my daughter" camp.

Appreciate the heads up. While some might think yes, it's just about being careful, without your post, I wouldn't have thought twice about my kids wearing crocs on an escalator. So, now we'll be a bit more careful, and might even save a toe or two.

I look at this as a "escalators are freekin' dangerous" more than a "Croc flip-flop" issue. A good reminder. I want my daughter to have the same number of finger and toes when we return from the mall, airport, office building, etc... How about we place our children in a plastic bubble like the ones that we put gerbils in. I remember seeing this in a Far Side cartoon once and now it is more relevent.

p.s I live in Minneapolis, how do I protect my daughter from our highway system??? Maybe move to China, oh, wait the bridges are falling down there also. They probably paint their bridges with lead paint too. Sorry, I digress.
e.j.j.

I thought this whole escalator thing was Croc-bashing (which I don't mind). And I figured the danger on an escalator would be at the top, getting toes sucked under the teeth. But, seeing that photo of the warning sign, it all kind of clicks and makes sense. The things are basically made from a non-slip pad, sticky rubber that when rubbing up against the side of a moving escalator (especially one going down) will totally "catch" and suck your foot back under the step above the one you're standing on. Which will totally fuck you up, especially an uncoordinated little kid, and when you get to the bottom you'll get eaten up.

(My 27-year-old sister has just about every Croc made and I think they're ridiculous and fugly, even fuckin' ugly. She's one of those who also wears pajamas to the store and flip-flops in the winter. But my two-year old looks real cute in croc-offs from the dollar store).

[when it's all said and done, the escalator stuff is scary, period. kids under 5 account for almost half of all escalator injuries, mostly from falling, and mostly injuring their hands. But the most common injury overall is to feet and legs. These squishy shoes are just an added twist to an already risky ride. -ed.]

It was my son that had the escalator encounter that I mentioned in the last Crocs post... It was terrifying and fortunately my husband was not holding my daughter at the time, so had his hands free to rescue my son. We live in Bangkok -- so use escalators on a daily basis. Crocs are huge here. And in many ways the Crocs seemed the perfect shoes for kids considering the climate and culture here. (Culture because shoes have to be taken off prior to going inside the home. With Crocs kids can manage this by themselves, even my 18 m.o. can do it.) I would never put my son in flip flops at age 3, but the Crocs made specifically for children I thought were safe. I don't know how we could have predicted the escalator danger and at the time I didn't believe my son was doing anything that appeared reckless. He was simply holding one foot perpindicular to the stair and the tip of the Croc got wedged between two steps. We have since consigned Crocs to outdoor play only. But what really gets me is that Crocs says this is an escalator maintenance problem. Well, try fixing that in Bangkok????

I loves me some croc-bashing, but this? Is going to give me escalator nightmares.

About 10 days ago, my friend was on an escalator with his five year old son, who was wearing crocs. His foot got sucked down in the gap between the escalator step and the side wall.

Initially he lost his littlest toe and the tips of the next three toes. The big toe had a tiny scratch. The bottom of his foot, however, was shredded.

It is not healing well and it is likely now that they will have to amputate the front half of his foot.

I'm not really a fan of crocs or escalators, but I think the issue is this:

You would probably be a little uncomfortable riding an escalator with flip flops on, your toes exposed. Somehow we think Crocs are safer because your foot is enclosed. Not so.

Rubber. Metal. Movement. Friction. Not a pretty combination.

I came online to research this.

We had a near-accident with my 2-year old when one of his Robeez got caught in the teeth at the end of the escalator. We managed to pull him from his shoe before any damage was done to his foot

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