At the same time, the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) has remained steadfast in its mission to educate Americans about potential cord hazards facing young children and to provide consumers with free cord-repair devices and information.
To date, WCSC has supplied consumers with more than 16 million free cord-repair kits; distributed nearly half a million safety brochures and posters; and generated 1.6 billion media impressions through newspaper, magazine, radio and television coverage of window cord safety concerns.
NATIONAL WINDOW COVERING SAFETY MONTH
ELIMINATE LOOPED PULL CORDS
(pre-1995 mini-blinds and pleated shades)
1. Cut the looped pull cord just above the tassel and remove equalizer buckle (if any).
2. Insert cord through tassel and tie cord ends to secure the tassel.
INSTALL CORD STOPS
(all pre-2001 horizontal blinds and corded shades)
1. Lower the blind to its proper length and lock cords into position at headrail.
2. Pinch together a portion of the pull cord to create a loop near the headrail, then slide the cord stop over the loop end.
3. Slip the free end of the pull cord through the loop to loosely knot the cord stop onto the pull cord.
4. Tighten the knot to secure the cord stop one to two inches below the headrail.
INSTALL TIE-DOWN DEVICES
(pre- 1997 vertical blinds and traverse draperies)
1. Insert cord or chain into tie-down device.
2. Attach the tie-down device to the floor or wall so that the cord is fully extended and securely fastened.
WCSC is encouraging all members of the industry to prominently display whenever possible the following basic rules of window cord safety:
• Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.
• Keep all window cords out of the reach of children. Make sure that tasseled pull cords are short and that continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall.
• Lock cords into position when lowering horizontal blinds or shades.
• Repair window blinds, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with retrofit cord repair devices, or replace them with today’s safer products.
• Consider installing cordless window coverings in children’s bedrooms and play areas.
Yet approximately a dozen window cord deaths are reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) every year. In a special effort to reduce these numbers by rekindling parent awareness of potential cord dangers, the industry worked with the CPSC to designate October 2003 as National Window Covering Safety Month (see D&WC, August 2003, page 16).
Because most window cord strangulations involve older products with looped pull cords or without cord stops or tensioners, it was decided that the key message of the safety campaign should be that parents with children under the age of six should repair or replace their older window coverings with the safer products now on the market. In addition, the CPSC encouraged industry to focus on reaching consumers at the retail level.
To provide a unifying identity to the campaign, the slogan “Kids . . . Cords . . . Caution” was adopted for use in all industry marketing and media activities. An optional logo was developed to create visual impact and branding for the campaign. WCSC subsequently elected to incorporate the slogan and logo into its ongoing informational and education program.
The Window Covering Safety Council agreed to carry out all umbrella public relations and media activities associated with the campaign, as well as to provide consumer groups, health and safety organizations, housing authorities and other allied groups with materials for conducting cord safety activities during the month-long campaign.
WCSC member retailers and Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) members were encouraged to plan in-store promotional programs and to distribute safety month materials to customers. Safety month logos, print advertising templates, counter cards and window cord repair instructions were developed by WCSC and made available to retailers for reproduction.
In addition, many retailers prepared to place official CPSC signage in their window covering departments, informing parents that pre-2001 window covering products should be replaced or repaired with today’s safer products.
EDUCATING CONSUMERS, THE MEDIA
To ensure media coverage for the October event, WCSC developed in advance a series of news releases and feature stories for broadcast and the print media, a special safety-month page on WCSC’s Web site, and the development of various cooperative efforts with groups dealing with child health, housing and safety. In addition, WCSC used the approach of the campaign as an opportunity to revamp its safety information, develop new consumer information brochures, and completely redesign and expand its Web site.
Special emphasis was placed on distributing illustrated cord repair instructions and cord safety rules to the media and safety groups around the country. The repair instructions offered easy-to-understand illustrations and directions for eliminating looped pull cords on pre-1995 horizontal blinds and shades, using tie-downs on pre-1997 vertical blinds and draperies, and installing cord stops on pre-2001 horizontal blinds and shades.
The campaign was officially launched on September 30, with the issuance of news releases by both the Safety Council and the CPSC. Promotional signs and activities were unveiled in retail stores around the country, and safety stories began to appear in newspapers, magazines and television stations. By the end of the month, the campaign had generated more than 60 million media impressions as well as tens of thousands of requests for cord repair kits from WCSC.
Although National Window Covering Safety Month was an unqualified success in generating awareness of potential window cord hazards, the industry remains committed to continuing its cord safety efforts. Given the estimated 850 million corded window coverings in today’s American homes, and the complexities of explaining pull-cord and inner-cord workings to the public, the enormity of such a massive education campaign can’t be understated.
WCSC officials are encouraging all members of the industry to join in the effort and disseminate cord safety information and advice whenever possible. Consumers should be reminded that they can order free cord repair devices for older window coverings through the WCSC Website at www.windowcoverings.org, or by calling the Council’s toll-free hotline at (800) 506-4636.
The WCSC Web site also provides excellent safety information for consumers, as well as easy-to-follow instructions for repairing potential window-cord hazards on older window coverings.