Did you know that October is Window Covering Safety Month?
Many parents and caregivers of young children do not realize that window blind cords are extremely dangerous to children. They are one of the top five hidden hazards in your home. Since children are naturally inquisitive, they have a tendency to play with hanging and accessible cords and can easily become ensnared, which can sadly lead to asphyxiation.
On average, one child per month dies from hanging themselves on free-hanging and accessible window blind cords or loops. Even more children are hospitalized monthly with serious, often life-altering, injuries. The Commission recently heard heart-breaking accounts of incidents like these at our annual Priorities Hearing, which you may watch here.
First and foremost, if you are a parent or caregiver of a young child, you should #GoCordless. I am delighted that some well-known retailers have decided to sell only cordless window coverings in their stores. I urge other retailers to join them now and do the same. #GoCordless.
But for parents and caregivers with young children who cannot #GoCordless, please examine all hanging window cords or loops and follow these simple and critical steps:
- Ensure that cords are out of reach of children and move cribs, beds, and furniture away from corded windows.
- Adjust window cords to the shortest length possible.
- Anchor continuous loop cords and vertical blinds tight to the floor or ground
- Use cleats to wrap loose cords every time you use them, to make them inaccessible to children.
As many of you know, since the CPSC’s creation, our regulations and standards have helped lower the overall number of injuries and deaths from consumer products, especially with regard to dangerous children’s products. But every morning when I read the overnight death reports, I know it is still not enough.
For many years, the CPSC has been working with the window covering industry in an attempt to create voluntary standards to improve window covering safety. While industry has adopted minimal voluntary standards, those standards still allow the blinds to have dangerous cords; and injuries and deaths from those cords continue to occur. In fact, within the past five years, the CPSC has issued voluntary recalls for over 10 million potentially dangerous window coverings. The data suggest that the current voluntary standard has not done enough to mitigate this hazard. The time has come to take a stronger stance. I am deeply committed to working with industry to improve the standard and work to completely eliminate the risks associated with these products. I am also committed to pushing our agency to pass a mandatory standard if the voluntary standard continues to be inadequate.
Last fall, I had the opportunity to go to China and visit a leading window blind manufacturer. I was impressed by the manufacturer’s ability to produce cordless window blinds that are very inexpensive and do not sacrifice utility for safety.
This past January, the Commission unanimously approved an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Corded Window Coverings. With bipartisan support, I am confident that we finally are moving in the right direction towards protecting all children from this avoidable tragedy.
While I promise to continue to pursue stricter standards for corded window coverings, parents and caregivers must also do their part.
Please take all preventative steps to avoid the risk of injury and death associated with this hidden hazard and #GoCordless!