CPSC And Industry Redesign Products To Save Lives

Note: CPSC issued a new safety alert in October 2009. CPSC now recommends that you:
Examine all shades and blinds in your home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side or back of the product. Use cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit. If buying new, cordless window coverings is not an option for you, contact the Window Covering Safety Council at www.windowcoverings.org to obtain a free repair kit and install it properly to make your window coverings safer. Ensure that your window covering does not present the hazards listed on this safety alert: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5009a.pdf


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Originally issued October 4, 1994; Revised March 3, 2011
Release #95-003
CONTACT: Elaine Tyrrell
(301) 504-6815

CPSC And Industry Redesign Products To Save Lives

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today a major cooperative effort with the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) to protect children from strangling in window covering pull cords. Window covering pull cords are associated with at least 140 deaths since 1981, a rate of one death per month.

CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said, "This collaborative effort between CPSC and manufacturers, importers, and retailers of drapery and blind cords epitomizes how government and industry can work together to save lives. This program will change future production, and give consumers who have or will buy window coverings a way to prevent the needless deaths of children."

CPSC, which investigated seven window covering cord strangulation deaths this year in Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, and California, is currently investigating an eighth death in the state of Washington.

Although some children were described as "entangled" or "wrapped" in window covering cords, most were found hanging in the loop of the cords. The younger victims, usually 8 to 23 months old, were in cribs, which were placed near window covering pull cords. While a few older children found the cords hanging near the floor, most of these victims, usually between 2 1/2 to 4 years old, became entangled and strangled in cords when they climbed onto furniture to look out windows.

Although a few of the older children were previously seen playing with the cords, most of the accidents occurred when the children were alone in a room for only a short time. 

CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council announced a three-part program that will eliminate the loop in most window blind cords by (1) improving the safety of existing window coverings, (2) modifying the future production of window coverings, and (3) implementing an educational campaign for consumers. 

  • Part one - Consumers who have window coverings in their homes should call the toll free number (800) 506-4636 immediately. The Window Covering Safety Council will either give the names of retail stores where consumers can pick up safety tassels now or send consumers safety tassels free-of-charge with installation instructions. Callers should be prepared to specify the number of individual tassels needed in their households.
  • Part 2 - As of Jan. 1, 1995, two-corded window coverings sold in stores will be manufactured with a new safer design.
  • Part 3 - The industry is committed to an educational campaign, which includes, brochures, posters for pediatricians offices and public health offices nationwide, and product alerts in window covering packaging.

In the interim, consumers should look for brands already manufactured with a safer design or get the tassels from retailers when they purchase new blinds. Consumers should add the safety tassels to new blinds immediately upon installation.

Parents should KEEP WINDOW COVERING CORDS AND CHAINS PERMANENTLY OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN. Never place a child's crib within reach of a window blind. Unless the cords can be completely removed from the child's reach, including when the child climbs on furniture, CPSC recommends against knotting or tying the cords together because this creates a new loop in which a child could become entangled.

Upon receiving their replacement safety tassels, consumers should install them as follows:

  1. For two-corded HORIZONTAL BLINDS, Cut the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a new safety tassel at the end of each cord.
  2. For two-corded PLEATED OR CELLULAR SHADES: leave the cord ball or buckle near the top rail in place, cut the cord above the tassel and add a separate safety tassel at the end of each cord. When shades are raised, a loop will appear above the cord stop. Keep cord out of the reach of children.

VERTICAL BLINDS, CONTINUOUS LOOP SYSTEMS, DRAPERY CORDS and CHAINS cannot be fixed with the replacement safety tassels but can be fixed with tie-down devices. Consumers should call CPSC at (800) 638-CPSC for information on modifying these types of window coverings.