From 1991 through 2004, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received reports of about 200 strangulation deaths involving cords and chains on window coverings. Strangulations can occur when young children become entangled in the inner or outer cord on the window covering. Most strangulation deaths involved the outer pull cords. At least 20 of these deaths involved the inner cords which run through horizontal blinds.
October is Window Covering Safety Month and CPSC, the Window Covering Safety Council and independent retailers have joined forces to urge consumers to repair or replace window coverings purchased before 2001.
"Entanglement and strangulation from older window covering cords are a hidden hazard," said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "It is critical that parents be aware of this and replace or repair window coverings purchased before 2001."
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 following are steps consumers can take to help prevent strangulation from window coverings:
- Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.
- 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.
- To prevent inner cord hazards, lock cords into position when lowering horizontal coverings or shades.
- Repair window coverings, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with retrofit cord repair devices, or replace them with today's safer products.
- Consider installing cordless window coverings in children's bedrooms and play areas.
Newer window coverings and repaired, older window coverings reduce the risk of strangulation, but they have not fully eliminated the hazard. Long, dangling window cords and chains still pose a strangulation hazard, because young children can wrap the cord around their neck. In addition, 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(pdf) or by calling (800) 506-4636. Individuals also can visit www.cpsc.gov to learn more about window covering safety.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at 800-638-2772 or teletypewriter at 301-595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @USCPSC or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.
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