Online shopping has continued to become increasingly popular over the years. However, if you have inspected your packaging for certain items before, you may have seen a warning label or a bag with a warning printed on it.
You may have ignored or not noticed it in the past, but now that you’ve taken on shipping your items, you have begun to realize that these warning labels are something you need to be including. So, let’s talk about how to use warning bags, where to use warning bags, and when to use warning bags!
What is a Suffocation Warning?
A suffocation warning is required to be printed on a bag of a specific size and thickness or on a label that can be placed on the bag. This warning is put in place to protect customers, ensuring they know the dangers of plastic bags. Learning how to use a warning bag helps keep your customers safe.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported receiving an average of 25 deaths per year of children who suffocated due to plastic bags. Ninety percent of those reports were children under a year old. These reports prompted many states to mandate a suffocation warning on any plastic bag that can lead to suffocation.
While some cities and states may have tweaked their suffocation warning by adding specific language to their area or requirements, this general warning text is accepted everywhere:
Warning: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children. Do not use this bag in cribs, beds, carriages, or playpens. This bag is not a toy.
Where You Need to Use a Warning Bag
While there are no federal laws requiring suffocation warnings on bags in the United States, many cities and states have created their own laws. Knowing how and where you need to use a warning bag can prevent re-packaging your item, which can become costly.
Cities and States With Current Warning Label Laws in Place
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New York City
Company Warning Bag Requirements
Amazon has a program that allows small businesses to sell products on their website! Pretty cool, right? Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, has stringent regulations for anyone who chooses to sell and ship their products using Amazon’s website. One of these regulations states warning bags are required.
They explain how to use warning bags, their specific requirements, and when to use them, so the information is clear. Other giant companies such as Target and Walmart also require suffocation warnings, while eBay and Etsy do not.
When using a warning bag, make sure you have checked your area to confirm any requirements your state may have and the company you are shipping through, if applicable. This will keep you protected, ensuring that all requirements have been followed and no issues will arise.
When to Use a Warning Bag
While each state has its specific requirements, the standard rule of thumb is that suffocation warnings are required on bags one mil or less in thickness and have an opening of 5 inches or more.
Warnings are not usually required on outer packaging (such as your poly mailer) because they are thicker than one mil. This also goes for Ziploc bags.
Knowing when to use a warning bag helps you avoid any problems with your product while it is in transit, ensuring it will make it successfully to its destination. It will also help you avoid any costs incurred if your package needs to be appropriately re-packaged while in transit.
How to Use Warning Bags?
It can feel overwhelming to learn how to use a warning bag, especially when the regulations vary by company, size of the product, and location. However, it’s essential to know how to use a warning bag properly to ensure your product will be delivered successfully.
While there are specific requirements based on several factors, with Massachusetts having the most comprehensive and restrictive requirements, the standard is as follows: Any bag with a 5-inch opening or larger (measure when flat) is required to have a suffocation warning, either printed on the bag itself or attached as a separate label.
In general, the following guidelines based on total length and width should meet most requirements for a warning suffocation label on plastic bags and mailing supplies. Follow these guidelines when shopping for your warning bag:
- Less than 25 inches — 10-point minimum font size
- 25 to 39 inches — 14-point minimum font size
- 40 to 59 inches — 18-point minimum font size
- 60 inches or more — 24-point minimum font size
Different Types of Warning Bags
There are three main types of suffocation warning options when it comes to poly mailers. Knowing how each warning bag works will help you decide the best fit for your product.
You can purchase clear cellophane bags that have the suffocation warning printed right on them. Many use these to package their items before putting them in a bigger envelope or box for shipping. These come in numerous different sizes to fit any of your needs. Measure your product and learn how to choose the right warning bag.
Another option is the glossy white mailers that have the suffocation warning printed right on the bag. These white mailers are not transparent and can be easily used as the only packaging. When purchasing these warning bags, make sure to choose the best size for your item.
While many choose to use these mailers since the warning is already printed to package, some prefer to use an actual label with the suffocation warning listed instead. This allows them to continue to use their personalized packaging while following the requirements. When using warning labels over bags, place the label on both sides of the packaging.
Shop4Mailers Warning Labels and Bags
When using a warning bag, your priority is to alert customers to any danger connected to poly bags or other plastic bags. Shop4Mailers is committed to providing clear warnings on our labels and poly bags with bold, black lettering. In addition, the suffocation warning is printed in three languages: English, Spanish, and French.
Suffocation warning bags are an easy step to help ensure safety for anyone receiving the plastic bag. Keep yourself educated by knowing when and how to use a warning bag. It is crucial to the success of your business and your wallet. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your customers today!