A new study finds window blinds and their cords continue to be a major safety hazard to children.
From 1990 through 2015, almost 17,000 young children were treated in hospital emergency rooms across the U.S. for window blind-related injuries. That works out to about two children per day.
While the majority of children were treated and released, the study found that there was about one child death each month–usually strangulation from a small child accidentally entangling themselves in a window blind cord.
Researchers blame ineffective voluntary safety standards for window blind cords. In an effort to reduce injuries and fatalities, experts are calling on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to eliminate products that pose a risk of strangulation to children.
Could happen to any parent
Linda Kaiser’s story is just one example of how window cord strangulation can happen to the best of parents. Kaiser and her husband Matt lost their daughter to a window cord strangulation incident back in 2002.
“After losing my daughter, Cheyenne, in 2002 and realizing children were strangling so often I felt compelled to start an organization that would educate, research and test window products for safety,” Kaiser told ConsumerAffairs.
She ultimately formed Parents for Window Blind Safety, an organization dedicated to educating consumers about the hazard of window covering cords.
“In 2005, we developed a seal of approval program, testing window covering products for Safety. Products that meet our stringent criteria were able to use our label on their products so that parents could recognize which products were safe for their home.”
Industry standard requires warning labels on both cordless and corded products, but Kaiser believes a new labeling system is needed.
“It is a difficult industry to advocate and educate due to the various products that are manufactured and the countless ways safety tips are misused,” she said.
Keeping kids safe
Tying up cords, cutting cords short or using breakaway devices isn’t enough to keep kids safe, says Kaiser. Her safety tips for window coverings are simple:
- Go cordless
- Look for window coverings with no outer cords, and tight inner cords
- Products with cords that cannot be pulled any longer than 12 inches are also safe but aren’t widely available as of now
- Cords inside of wands that restrict the cords are safe options as well
“If you cannot go cordless, safety should be a top priority,” Kaiser said. “Cut the cords 2 inches above the headrail. Tape cord tassels behind slats so kids do not see them. Only use the window blind to allow light in until you can purchase safe window coverings.”
Parents should also move cribs, beds, couches, and other furniture away from windows so children cannot climb on them to get to the window or window blind cords. Grandparents and other caregivers should also be told to remove window blinds with cords to help keep kids safer.