There are times when you don’t want to be No. 1. Clearly, one such time is when one of the most important products you make/distribute/sell appears at the top of a “Most Wanted” list as do window blinds on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site (www.cpsc.gov/).
From 1991 to 2000, CPSC received reports of 160 strangulations involving
cords on window blinds: 140 strangulations involved the outer pull
cords, and 20 involved the inner cords that run through the blind
slats. The window coverings industry has been well aware of this
problem and has worked diligently and sincerely to eliminate the
In 1994, blinds were redesigned to eliminate the outer loop on the
end of the pull cords. The industry, largely through the Window
Covering Safety Council, has worked with CPSC to provide free repair
kits so consumers can fix their existing blinds. Blinds sold since
1995 no longer have pull cords ending in loops.
In 1999, following an extensive review of incidents, it was found
that children also could become entangled in the inner cords that
are used to raise the slats. These entrapments occur when someone—usually
a young child—pulls on an inner cord and it forms a loop.
The industry has further redesigned window blinds and those sold
since November 2000 have attachments on the pull cords so that the
inner cords can’t form a loop if pulled.
But unfortunately that doesn’t mean accidents and deaths have
stopped. There are countless older blinds still in homes today;
and although reports of deaths become more rare each year, they
still happen. Worst of all, these deaths involve children in cribs
or playpens placed next to windows. In most cases, the outer pull
cords were out of reach, but the children still strangled when they
pulled on the inner cords of the blinds. The strangulation victims
ranged in age from nine months to 17 months.
This year, for the third year in a row, the Window Covering Safety
Council and the CPSC have made October National Window Covering
Safety Month (see page 46). They urge all of us to point out the
built-in safety features of new blinds and shade products and to
help make safety as important to the buying decision as color, style
Parents and caregivers have an obligation to keep children safe,
and there are many things they can do from repairing or replacing
existing blinds to moving beds, cribs and playpens away from windows.
The industry also has an obligation to make and sell as safe a product
as possible and to make customers aware of the hazard and the solutions.