According to information provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), since 1990 approximately 200 infants and young children have died from accidentally strangling in window cords. For the fourth consecutive year, CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council are co-sponsoring a month-long educational campaign in an effort to increase awareness of potential window-cord dangers.
The campaign has focused on the slogan “Kids, Cords, Caution.”
This message is being displayed in retail stores around the country,
and will help serve as a reminder for parents to replace or retrofit
older corded window coverings. Child and consumer safety groups, health
organizations and housing authorities are joining in the educational
“With cord-safety features now built right into window coverings,
parents can feel more confident about their child’s safety by
replacing older window coverings with the newer products now available,”
explained Peter Rush, executive director of the Window Covering Safety
Council (WCSC) “Using cordless window coverings in children’s
bedrooms and play areas is also a highly recommend safety precaution
that parents should consider.”
STILL AN ISSUE
In recent years, manufacturers in the window covering industry have
redesigned its corded products and developed cord-safety standards
to respond to child strangulation concerns. However, consumers have
not retrofitted millions of older corded window coverings, and many
new parents are sometimes unaware of potential cord dangers.
The accidental strangulation of infants and young children in the
cords of window blinds, shades and draperies continues to be an issue,
with both inner and pull cords remaining a concern for today’s
busy parents. WCSC recommends that parents check all windows in the
home and follow these cord-safety rules:
• Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows
and window cords, preferably to another wall.
• Keep all window pull cords and inner lift cords out of the
reach of children. Make sure tasseled pull cords are short and continuous-loop
cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall. Make sure cord
stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit movement of inner
• Lock cords into position whenever horizontal blinds or shades
are lowered, including when they come to rest on a windowsill.
• Replace window blinds, corded shades and draperies manufactured
before 2001 with today’s safer products. Install cordless window
coverings in children’s bedrooms and play areas.
Almost every type of corded window fashion is now available in a cordless
style. Horizontal blinds and mini-blinds, as well as pleated and cellular
shades, are frequently transformed into cordless products through
the use of spring-loaded mechanisms. Wand controls can eliminate cords
on vertical blinds and traditionally non-corded roller shades and
curtains are always options for consumers.
Decorating a child’s room is a fun and exciting time, but make
sure your decorating inspirations are grounded in safety. Many mistakenly
believe that window cords only pose a potential strangulation danger
to newborns and infants who spend a great deal of time sleeping.
However, safety experts say that once a child reaches the age of three
or four, parents need to be especially vigilant in restricting a child’s
access to window areas. It is not uncommon for accidents involving
children of this age to occur during active play.
Curious toddlers and older children may climb onto low-standing furniture
or bookcases, either to peek out a window or to use the window cord
as a Tarzan-type swing. Some unknowingly spin in circles while holding
onto a window cord, inadvertently winding the cord around themselves.
Others pretend the cord is a necklace or cowboy lasso, which can tragically
become a noose when the child jumps off the furniture or windowsill
area to the floor.
Low-standing furniture placed near a window is of particular concern.
Safety experts say toy chests, under-the-window couches and bookshelves,
beanbag chairs, large cachepots for indoor plants and computer towers
all can serve as “hidden stepstools” that a young child
might use to reach a window or window cords.
Decorate with safety in mind when working on a baby’s room.
Areas such as cribs and windows are often the focus of decorating
ideas for nurseries. Parents should be particular in selecting these
products as they can pose hidden hazards to a baby’s safety.
Always place the crib away from any windows in the room, preferably
on another wall. Most reports of accidental window-cord strangulations
involve window cords within reach of an infant’s crib or playpen.
Both CPSC and WCSC recommend parents use cordless window coverings
in children’s bedrooms, as well as any room where a child regularly
sleeps or plays. New cordless window coverings and decorating solutions
to match all budgets and decorating schemes make decorating for safety
a breeze—from spring-loaded, no pull cord horizontal blinds
and pleated shades to café curtains and roller shades. A simple
cordless window covering in a neutral color, with a brightly patterned
valence or topper to pick up the room’s decorating scheme and
color palette is a popular and practical solution to safely adding
style to a nursery or toddler’s room.
If electing to use existing blinds, shades or draperies in the baby’s
room, make sure you check and retrofit for safety any corded window
covering made before 2001. If you’re not sure of the age of
the blinds or draperies, check to make sure horizontal blinds and
pleated shades are free from looped pull cords and are equipped with
cord stops, and that the pull cords for draperies or vertical blinds
are permanently attached to the floor or wall.
The Window Covering Safety Council is a coalition of major U.S. manufacturers,
importers and retailers of window coverings dedicated to educating
consumers about window cord safety. Since its inception in 1994, WCSC
has remained steadfast in its mission to:
• Educate Americans about potential window cord hazards facing
• Provide consumers with free retrofit kits and information.
• Promote the industry’s continuing commitment to product
quality and safety.
As part of its ongoing public information campaign to increase cord-safety
awareness, WCSC regularly disseminates news and informational materials
through the media and through partnerships with various public and
private organizations concerned with child safety, health and well-being.
WCSC provides consumers with free cord-retrofit kits via an online
order form at www.windowcoverings.org and its toll-free number at
(800) 506-4636. To date, these efforts have resulted in the retrofit
of millions of residential window coverings.