Child Deaths Prompt New Regulations for Window Blinds

Could the window blinds in your home be posing a serious threat to your child’s safety? Unless they are cordless blinds, the answer is frighteningly, yes, according to a new article from the New York Times.

While in the past several years manufacturers have added safety features and provided parents with cautionary tips on their products, current statistics show that window blinds are still to blame for an average of one death per month due to strangulation by cords.

These grim statistics have motivated the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take action. The CPSC has stepped in and challenged the industry ”to devise a way to eliminate the risks from window cords or perhaps face mandatory regulations.” The Times reports that manufacturers have stepped up in reponse and are now working with a task force of regulators and consumer advocates, promising a fix by the fall.

While there is hope in this new convergence, unfortunately the manufacturers and consumer advocates have failed, thus far, to agree of what ‘safe’ really means. While blind manufacturers have offered several fixes to reduce risk, the task force stands firm that these efforts are not enough and the goal should not be to decrease risk but to eliminate it all together.

“It was my understanding that we were eliminating the hazard,” said Carol Pollack-Nelson, a safety consultant and member of the task force. “Now they are talking about reducing the hazard. We don’t want reduced strangulation. We want no chance of it.”

According to the Times, Ralph J. Vasami, executive director of the Window Covering Manufacturers Association, said it was unrealistic to expect the industry to eliminate every possible hazard. “Window blinds are not children’s products, he said, nor are they defective.” He goes on to imply that it’s a parent’s responsibility to take precaution around such products in order to keep their children safe and urges parents of young children to install cordless shades if they have concerns.

 While the task force suggests ceasing the production of any blinds except cordless is an obvious solution to solving the problem entirely, manufacturers point out that cordless styles are more difficult to produce than corded blinds and can cost twice as much to make.

While Vasami predicts the number of deaths “will inevitably decline as older products are replaced by those with more safety features,” parents who have tragically lost a child to cord strangulation are taking a more assertive approach. One couple recently founded the Parents for Window Blind Safety, while all agree that anything that can be done to prevent another family from enduring the pain they have gone through is worth whatever it takes.

Share your thoughts on this issue. Do you think manufacturers are correct in their assertion that parents are ultimately responsible for keeping their children safe, regardless of the overall safety of a product— or do you side with the task force and believe it’s a manufacturer’s job to provide completely hazard-free products, no matter the cost?

Be sure to keep your family safe and find information on the very latest product recalls with our Recall Finder on Parents.com.

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  1. by familysqueeze

    On April 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    It’s completely impossible to FULLY baby-proof a house… If you actually manage to do this, you may find yourself (and your child) living in a plastic bubble. However, as a parent it is great to have new information as to which household items may pose a danger to your child, so that you can take certain precautions. I don’t feel it is solely the job of the manufacturer to take these precaution; though, there definitely should be warning labels and adequate information for all consumers.

  2. by Crystal

    On April 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    They make safety products for blind cords. But in all the parents could just take the strings and tie them up with a rubber band or something like that. Or I just throw the cord over the curtain rods.

  3. by Cinzia

    On April 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    All of my blinds have curtains in front of them and I ALWAYS tuck the cord in the very top of the blind when they’re pulled up. I even have gone as far as putting a hook up at the top next to the window to hang the cord up and it’s way out of reach. Even the cord hanging is too short for my 4 year old to reach and/or it’s tucked behind the blind (between the glass and blind.) I’d rather be safe than sorry. And I did read the warning on my new blinds BTW!

  4. by Heather

    On April 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Everything in this day and age can be a safety hazard. I don’t think manufacturers should have to take the brunt of mishaps unless they really had an unsafe product. If there were jagged edges or something done wrong in manufacturing that is one thing, but parents need to take responsibility. All my cords are tied up on my shades.

  5. by brandy

    On April 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I under stand that as parents we would like to have the safest place posible for our children but that is are place as parents to make our houses safe not the manufacturer’s if you do not think their product is safe for your child or house dont buy them. I hate when people dont use comminsence and than blame others for their short commings. I have window bilnds in my home and my children have never played with them I have the strings tied up so my little one can not reach them and the older ones know that thay are not toys and not to be played with. if you as a parent can not be in the same room as your child or see them in the room they are playing in you should not have anything in that room that will harm you child not only window blinds but any thing that might pose a danger.

  6. by Jenn F.

    On April 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I knew about risks with corded mini-blinds before I even had my son. There are warnings all over them. I don’t see how manufacturers can make them any less dangerous without parents helping on their end. If you have done everything that you possibly can to keep your child safe and you still feel leery about having mini-blinds, then switch to cordless blinds. We personally keep the cord over the curtain rod and keep the blinds drawn up higher than my 9 month-old can reach when he pulls himself up. The taller he gets, the higher they will go until they no longer pose a risk to him.

  7. by Kindra

    On April 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I appriciate the warnings found on certain products, I am a mother of a 7 month onl little boy and there are dangers lurking where I wouldn’t necessarilly realize. I take full responsibility for the health and well being of my child in every aspect. I put hooks in above the window so when I have the blinds open the cord doesnt have ti dangle within his reach.

  8. by Becky

    On April 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    It IS the parent’s responsibility to keep their child safe. If our kid falls out of a tree, do we get to sue God for not putting on a warning label? Take some responsibility, people!

  9. by Sandra

    On April 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    My friends just lost their 5 year old son to a cord on the window blinds so sit there and criticize and say it is the parents responsibilty all you like, till you lose someone you love. It is tragic and I am sorry but it is possible to make blinds with safety features so YES the manufacture and the home builders that opt for the cost effective window treatments are to blame.

  10. by Amy

    On April 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Well we rent and I have never had an issue with my child playing with the window binds. I do think that if a parent knows it could be a potental danger then put it up. I have learn though my child that no mater what I do to keep her safe she still finds a way to get to it. I feel bad for those who have lost a loved one but my question is what were they doing at the time too? If I don’t keep a close eye on my 1 year old then she is bound to find trouble. For example she has learned how to open cabants with the locks on!!

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