CPSC, Window Covering Industry Announce Recall to Repair Window Blinds - New Investigation of Children's Deaths Leads to Redesigned Window Blinds

March 3, 2011
Release Number: 01023

Originally issued November 1, 2000, Revised March 3, 2011

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

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council are announcing a recall to repair horizontal window blinds to prevent the risk of strangulation to young children. The recall involves millions of window blinds with pull cords and inner cords that can form a loop and cause strangulation. About 85 million window blinds are sold each year.

Since 1991, CPSC has received reports of 130 strangulations involving cords on window blinds. 114 strangulations involve the outer pull cords, and 16 involve the inner cords that hold the blind slats.

In 1995, CPSC worked with the window covering industry to redesign new window blinds to eliminate the outer loop on the end of pull cords and provide free repair kits so consumers could fix their existing blinds. CPSC issued a safety alert about this hazard and what consumers can do about it, including a detailed description of the free repair kits. Window blinds sold since 1995 no longer have pull cords ending in loops.

Last year, CPSC began a new investigation of window blind deaths. In an extensive review of incidents, CPSC found that children could also become entangled in the inner cords that are used to raise the slats of blinds. These entrapments occur when a young child pulls on an inner cord and it forms a loop that the child can hang in. All of these deaths involved children in cribs placed next to windows. In most cases, the outer pull cords were placed out of reach, but the children strangled when they pulled on the inner cords of the blinds. The strangulation victims ranged in age from 9 months to 17 months.

As a result of the new CPSC investigation, the industry has further redesigned window blinds. Newly manufactured blinds have attachments on the pull cords so that the inner cords can't form a loop if pulled by a young child. Consumers with existing blinds should have them repaired. The repair can be done in minutes without removing the blinds.

Consumers who have window blinds with cords in their homes should call the Window Covering Safety Council toll-free (800) 506-4636 to receive a free repair kit for each set of blinds in the home. You can also visit their web site - www.windowcoverings.org (pdf) - to get more information on checking your window covering. The repair kit will include small plastic attachments to prevent the inner cords from being pulled loose. The kit also includes safety tassels for pre-1995 window blinds with outer pull cords ending in loops. Consumers should cut the loops and install a safety tassel at the end of each pull cord. Consumers who have vertical blinds, draperies or pleated shades with continuous loop cords should request special tie-downs to prevent strangulation in those window coverings.

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 that parents never knot or tie the cords together because this creates a new loop in which a child could become entangled.

Consumers who have young children may wish to consider purchasing cordless window coverings. These are made by a number of firms.