The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of some 50 million shades and blinds last month, due to the safety risk they pose to young children.
The government safety regulators have recalled all roll-up blinds and all Roman shades in homes with small children. The problem in this recall is the cords – these blinds all feature cords which a child can easily become trapped in and potentially be strangled to death.
Since 2001, there have been eight reported deaths and sixteen more near strangulations involving the cords of window coverings.
Strangulation can occur when a child becomes trapped between the inner cords which control the binds, or when the cord becomes wrapped around the child’s neck. In the case of roll-up blinds, strangulation can occur when the child becomes tangled in the lifting loop. In both cases, the window coverings have exposed cords which pose the danger.
“Parents need to understand that these are hidden dangers, that a child can get entangled or strangled on these cords very quickly,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.
To illustrate the point, consider Collier Ursprung. The eighteen month old’s parents thought he was asleep in his crib, until the moment they heard a scream from his room.
“We scurried across the room to find him standing in his crib with the cord from the shade near his bed wrapped around his neck and he was unable to get out of it, and was struggling and tugging to get out of it,” said Collier’s father.
The boy’s father, Robert Ursprung, is a pediatrician. He managed to free his son and see to him immediately, and while the boy survived, it was very clear that the family had suffered from a close call.
Collier’s mother, Susan Ursprung, will never forget the sight of the ligature marks the cord left in her son’s neck.
This is not the first time the CPSC has issued warnings and recalls about blinds. In fact, the organization has announced so many recalls that they are considering simply calling for a new mandatory redesign for children’s safety.
The CPSC recommends window coverings without cords for all homes with young children, or which young children regularly visit. It is impossible for parents to monitor their children constantly, and most parents do not realize just how quickly tragedies can happen. It only takes a few minutes for children to be seriously injured or killed.
In the short term, the CPSC advises that homes with these dangerous window coverings remove them, and keep them away from cribs or furniture which could serve to give young children access to cords. Special attention should be paid to keeping dangerous cords well out of reach.
Consumers who have Roman or roll-up shades in their homes should contact the Window Covering Safety Council immediately at www.windowcoverings.org or by calling (800) 506-4636 anytime to receive a free repair kit to make the window coverings safe.
For more information, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site.