Childhood Window Blind Injuries And Deaths Still High: Study

A new study warns that at least two children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every day for injuries associated with window blinds, such as strangulation or eye injuries.

From 1990 to 2015, nearly 17,000 children under the age of six went to U.S. emergency rooms due to window blind incidents, according to a study published on December 11 in the medical journal Pediatrics.  Researchers with Ohio State University said the findings stressed the importance of standardizing cord designs that could prevent injuries.

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Bridget B. Onders, pulled data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and In-Depth Investigation (IDI) databases to review window blind related injuries reported from 1990 to 2015.

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Researchers identified 16,827 window blind related injuries that involved children under the age of six years old who were treated at emergency rooms for a variety of injuries. According to the research, the most common injury reported was children being struck by the cords as they ran by them, often resulting in eye injuries due to the low hanging cords.

Entanglement injuries accounted for nearly 12 percent of all recorded ER visits, which involved children becoming trapped within the circular blind cords. Low hanging blinds that loop at the bottom pose a serious danger to young children who can easily become entangled and suffocate.

The study found that 98.7 percent of the injuries were to children’s necks, which occurred while the child was attempting to play with or operate the inner and outer cords. The entanglement incidents were fatal 68 percent of the time.

“Window blind strangulation incidents can be fatal within minutes and can occur silently. In this regard, they are similar to child drownings,” the researchers concluded. “Accessible window blind cords should be considered as hazardous to young children as standing bodies of water.”

The CPSC has sought to improve window curtain safety for years by acting swiftly in recalling corded blinds after injuries are reported. In 2009, the CPSC issued a nationwide roman shades and roll-up blinds recall, affecting 50 million window coverings linked to at least nine child deaths.

In an effort to prevent window blind related injuries, the CPSC published an advanced notice of proposed rule-making in the federal register in January 2015, announcing new window covering rules, which addressed possible ways to address the risk of strangulation posed by free hanging windows curtain cords.

In February, the CPSC announced that makers of blinds, shades and other window coverings have agreed on voluntary standards that aim to eliminate cords from three quarters of all products to help reduce the risks of child strangulation.

The consumer advocacy groups,Consumer Reports, released their own window cord advisory in June 2015. The group called on the window covering industry to make meaningful changes that actually reduce the risk of strangulation to children. The group criticized the Window Covering Manufacturers Association for trying to convince the CPSC to let the industry set its own voluntary standards, warning that more stringent action is needed to protect children.


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