Federal Government Warns of "Hidden Hazard" to Young Children - Old Window Coverings Pose Strangulation Risk

"Most people don't think about window coverings as something that can harm their child," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "We continue to lose children in tragic incidents due to entanglement and strangulation in older window covering cords."
October 20, 2005
Release Number: 06-014

October is Window Covering Safety Month and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Window Covering Safety Council and independent retailers have joined forces to urge consumers to repair or replace window coverings purchased before 2001. Strangulations can occur when young children become entangled in the inner or outer cord on the window covering.

"Most people don't think about window coverings as something that can harm their child," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "We continue to lose children in tragic incidents due to entanglement and strangulation in older window covering cords."

Since 1991 CPSC has received reports of about 200 strangulation deaths involving cords and chains on window coverings. Most strangulation deaths involved the outer pull cords. At least 20 of these deaths involved the inner cords which run through horizontal blinds.

Outer-pull cord deaths typically involve children ranging in age from 7-months to 6-years. Inner-cord deaths typically involve children ranging in age from 9-months to 20-months who are placed in cribs or playpens located within reach of window coverings. In all cases, the children became inadvertently entangled and died from strangulation.

The window covering industry has produced redesigned products to reduce cord hazards. These redesigns have reduced the opportunity to create hazardous loops in the cords or chains. The redesigns also have featured permanently attached tie-down anchors and built-in cord stops.

Although redesigned, newer window coverings and repaired, older window coverings reduce the risk of strangulation - they have not fully eliminated the hazard. Long, dangling window cords and chains still pose a strangulation hazard for young children. Consumers should never tie window blind cords or chains together because the knot creates a new loop, in which a young child could become entangled.

During the month of October, CPSC increases its efforts to urge consumers to carefully inspect the cords and chains of all of their window coverings. Consumers also are encouraged to consider cordless coverings and other alternative window coverings, which have been recently introduced throughout the country by manufacturers. Consumers with older window coverings are urged to repair or replace their window coverings.

Consumers possessing window coverings purchased before 2001 can obtain a free repair kit from the Window Covering Safety Council's Web site at www.windowcoverings.org or by calling (800) 504-4636. Individuals also can visit www.cpsc.gov to learn more about window covering safety.

The following are window-covering safety tips offered by CPSC:

1.  Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.

2.  Keep all window cords out of the reach of children. Make sure that tasseled pull cords are short, and that continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall.

3.  To prevent inner-cord hazards, lock cords into position when lowering horizontal coverings or shades.

4.  Repair window coverings, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with retrofit cord-repair devices, or replace them with today's safer products.

5.  Consider installing cordless window coverings in children's bedrooms and play areas.

 

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