Window Blinds Injuries Mount As Consumer Reports Calls For Tougher Standards

Amid continuing reports of small children suffering severe and potentially life-threatening injuries after becoming caught in the cords or shades of window treatments, Consumer Reports is calling for tougher standards and warning parents about the potential risk of window blind injuries. 

In a  safety advisory issued by Consumer Reports on June 5, the group indicates that nearly 200 children were strangled to death and more than 100 others were injured after becoming entangled in window blind cords between 1996 and 2012.

The advisory draws attention to what the group says are the low safety manufacturing standards for window blinds and shades. Consumer Reports has launched a campaign to push for mandatory safety standards calling on a coalition of about 30 public-interest organizations.

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The groups have filed a petition with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to place stronger standards and regulations on window covering manufacturers.

The CPSC has recalled millions of window coverings with cords over the last few decades. A child dies every month from strangulation in the cords of a window blind or shade, according to the CPSC.

Despite the numerous recalls, Consumer Reports, an independent consumer watchdog group not affiliated with the CPSC, claims that manufacturers refuse to update their safety standards and design. The CPSC has also repeatedly pressed the manufacturers to make their products safer, to prevent injuries and deaths; but Consumer Reports claims manufacturers refuse to respond.

“The industry has resisted making the changes needed to meaningfully reduce the risk to children, and right now, the only safety standards for window coverings are voluntary,” the Consumer Reports advisory states.

Among the non-fatally injured children include reports of scarring around the neck, entanglement resulting in obstruction of the airways, to permanent brain damage. Nine suffered neurological outcomes, cerebral edema, coma, loss of cognitive abilities and quadriplegia.

Consumer Reports says the voluntary standards are not enough to protect the nation’s children. Despite the deaths and repeated pleas, companies have not significantly reduced the serious hazards the cords pose to infants and young children, notes Consumer Reports. The group says that has allowed the number of injuries and deaths linked to window blinds and shades cord strangulation to grow.

The consumer advocacy group warns strangulation can happen “quickly and silently no matter how vigilant a parent or caregiver might be.”

In January, the CPSC announced an advance notice of proposed rule making focusing on rules concerning the window coverings. The agency began working with the window covering industry to address risks; however the industry continues to lobby for delays on the would be regulations.

“There are [window covering] products on the market that do not pose strangulation risks to children,” the coalition of groups campaigning for tougher standards wrote. “This means that the research and technology already exists to design products without strangulation risks. Manufacturers know how to do this. If the CPSC enacts a mandatory rule, it will ensure that this minimum level of safety is applied to all products for sale in the market.”

Consumer Reports urges the public to get involved to lobby for the safety of children by sending comments to the CPSC calling for safer blinds and shades safer with stricter standards for the marketplace that will protect young children.

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