Federal safety officials have launched a month-long safety campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with corded window blinds and curtains, which have been linked to dozens of deaths involving young children who were strangled after becoming entrapped in the cords.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) began its Window Covering Safety Month campaign on October 9, urging consumers to check all window coverings for accessible cords which may pose a strangulation hazard for infants and young children.
Window blind cord safety has been a growing concern in recent years, as an increasing number of children have been injured and killed, and federal regulators have required manufacturers and retailers to issue window blind recalls that impact millions of products still in homes nationwide.
Between 1996 and 2019, at least 230 children 12 years of age and under were strangled to death by window covering cords, according to the Commission. In addition, hundreds of children have reportedly sustained severe injuries in non-fatal accidents, with many resulting in permanent brain damage, neurological issues, scarring and permanent loss of mobility.
Officials warn window cords are one of the most dangerous hidden hazards within a home, which is often not recognized by parents and caregivers. The problems can happen quickly and quietly, often in areas of the home that are thought to be safe for children.
“Accessible window cords are dangerous,” CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said in the press release. “Even if you tie them high, or use so-called ‘safety cleats,’ kids can still strangle to death in under one minute. Cordless window blinds and curtains, or those with inaccessible cords, are the only safe option to use in homes, childcare centers or any other places where young children are present.”
The safety campaign, which is set to run through the end of October, encourages parents and caregivers to go cordless, and eliminate the possibility of a strangulation hazard to children.
For those who are unable to buy and install new cordless window coverings, the agency recommends the following safety precautions:
- Eliminate any dangling cords by making the pull cords as short as possible.
- Keep all window covering cords out of the reach of children.
- Ensure that cord stops are installed properly and adjusted to limit the movement of inner lift cords.
- Anchor to the floor or wall continuous-loop cords for draperies and blinds.
- Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window covering cords, preferably to another wall.
For years, the CPSC has worked closely with the Window Covering Manufacturers Association to address the child risks and increase safety standards through a combination of design and placement strategies.
In January 2015, the CPSC published an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the federal register, announcing new rules concerning risk of injury associated with corded window coverings, the costs to achieve regulatory alternative, the effect of each alternative on the safety, cost, utility, availability of window coverings, and other possible ways to address the risk of strangulation posed by free hanging windows curtain cords.
The rule sought to eliminate free hanging cords by mandating cleats to be sold with the assembly so that any excess cords are located out of reach of children. Additional proposals have included shortening the length of cords so there is no excess children could reach, or to integrate crank mechanisms which do not have any slack for children to become entangled.
However, despite the federal regulators calling for mandatory safety standards for window coverings since 2015, the Window Covering Manufacturers Association has been moving in the direction to implement voluntary standards in hopes of satisfying the CPSC’s concerns without the need for the likely more stringent federal regulations.