Despite Warnings and Recalls, Window Blind Cords Continue to Cause Child Deaths

In recent years, millions of window blinds have been recalled and federal safety regulators have made substantial efforts to raise awareness about the risks that cords may pose to young children. However, children continue to suffer severe and sometimes fatal injuries after becoming caught in the cords of blinds, shades and curtains.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that at least 184 children were strangled to death and more than 100 others were injured after becoming entangled in window cords between 1996 and 2012, leading to recent efforts and recalls. In addition to the fatalities, many of the injuries resulted in permanent brain damage, neurological issues, scarring and permanent loss of mobility.

A steady stream of window blind recalls have been issued by various manufacturers, and campaigns have been launched improve window covering safety by eliminating free hanging cords. However, it has been an uphill battle to address the safety risk that remains in millions of homes throughout the U.S.

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Earlier this week, another child death was linked to window cords, when a three year old Utah girl became entangled in a free hanging window curtain cord while playing with a friend, causing her to suffocate to the point of unconsciousness. CNN reports that the parents found their daughter with the window blind cord wrapped around her neck and unresponsive.

The child remained unconscious, as she was flown to Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where doctors rushed to put her on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. Reports from the parents indicate there was hope at first, as the child began to breathe on her own, however, when she was taken off sedation she remained unresponsive and began convulsing. MRI results indicated the child’s brain had been deprived oxygen so long that her upper lobes were devastated. Just hours after being taken off ventilation, the three year old girl began convulsing regularly and required a ventilator once again. She died on Tuesday.

CPSC public relations officer, Kim Dulic, stated unconsciousness from curtain cord strangulation can happen within approximately 15 seconds and can escalate to a fatality within just a minute or two.

CPSC Moves To Prevent Window Cord Strangulation

Window cord hazards are one of the most hidden dangers within a home that often go overlooked by parents and caregivers. The hazards are particularly dangerous because the events involving children can happen quickly and quietly and in areas that are thought to be safe, usually while not under supervision for a period of time.

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, encompassing 50 million window coverings that had been linked to nine child deaths at that time.

The CPSC’s believes that with an average of 11 fatal strangulations each year among children, its current safety standards are not effective enough. However, recent efforts over the last two years have shifted to become proactive rather than reactive to injury risks.

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 would specifically seek 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 that there is no excess that children could reach or to integrate crank mechanisms that do not have any slack for children to become entangled in.

The CPSC has been working closely with the Window Covering Manufacturers Association to address the infant risks and increase safety standards through a combination of design and placement strategies.

Some consumer advocacy organizations including the non-profit Consumer Reports have released their own safety advisories, such as a window cord advisory released by the organization in June 2015. Consumer Reports 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 commitment to the CPSC to follow voluntary standards, claiming they are not enough to protect children.

The safety advisory claims that the research and technology to fully prevent entrapment hazards has been available for quite some time and the companies are fully capable of creating designs that reduce strangulation risks. Consumer Reports has openly supported the CPSC enacting a mandatory rule that will ensure maximum safety standards so that manufacturers do not have a choice whether to put safety as a top priority when designing products.

1 Comments

  • RobertSeptember 15, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    I gave the U.S.Consumer Product Safety Commission patented solutions to prevent infant and child strangulation deaths in blind cords in 1999 and 2002 I gave these three entities ,The U.S Consumer Product Safety, the Window Covering Safety Council and the Window Covering Manufacturers Association patented solutions to the 5 ways infants and children strangle to death in blind cords.. I have b[Show More]I gave the U.S.Consumer Product Safety Commission patented solutions to prevent infant and child strangulation deaths in blind cords in 1999 and 2002 I gave these three entities ,The U.S Consumer Product Safety, the Window Covering Safety Council and the Window Covering Manufacturers Association patented solutions to the 5 ways infants and children strangle to death in blind cords.. I have been for 18 years denied by the U.S.C.P.S.C. The names of the Manufacturers and the product that killed the child..I have just received a disk containing I believe more then 1,200 infant and child strangulation deaths concealed from the American Public by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from the years 1982 thru 2015.,I also believe several other parties are consciously and actively involved in this 1,200 infant and children unnecessary and preventable tragic, cover up, including I believe lawyers.

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