“I’m very happy that Roman shades are finally being pulled off the market, what it means to me is that they are no longer going to be manufactured with cords in them.”
Linda Kaiser says in an interview that she's been waiting for this day to come ever since her one-year-old daughter was strangled by a home window blind cord.
In June 2002, Kaiser tucked twins, Cheyenne and Seth, into baby blankets in their cribs. Cheyenne accidentally strangled herself by looping an inner cord within the window blinds around her neck.
"All they have to do it take it off their neck, but all they do is struggle and they panic and they don’t know how to save themselves” she tells the Chicago Tribune.
Since Cheyenne’s death, Kaiser has formed Parents for Window Blind Safety, lobbying the federal government for a recall of the dangerous blinds.
This week, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history, working with industry to recall all Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds with cords because of the risk of strangulation.
That includes more than 50 million blinds and shades from multiple manufacturers.
The CPSC has received reports of five deaths among children and 16 near-strangulations from fabric-looped Roman shades since 2006. Three deaths associated with roll-up blinds have been reported since 2001.
Kaiser says after her daughter’s death, she couldn’t just grieve and do nothing. “I wasn’t going to sit there and let more kids die.”
She says she did some research and read nearly 300 reports of incidents involving the blinds. Then Kaiser found the Roman shades violated the safety standards that had been established for the industry.
Kathleen Reilly, with the CPSC, says parental pressure does help bring about change, despite the fact that the commission has been working with industry for 15 years to make blinds safer.
A spokesman for the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), the group representing manufacturers and retails, denies any delay. “We’re working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission every single day to work within their standards,” said Nat Klein to the Chicago Tribune.
In fact, in making their announcement, CPSC Chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, commends the industry.
“Over the past 15 years, CPSC has been investigating window covering hazards and working with the WCSC to ensure the safety of window coverings. We commend the WCSC for providing consumers with repair kits that make window coverings safer and look forward to future steps to eliminate these hazards,” says Tenenbaum.
The CPSC works with industry to encourage voluntary recalls rather than turn to litigation which takes years, is costly, and leaves the danger unresolved in the interim.
For its part, the federal agency has been working with the WCSC over the years. In 1994 and again in 2000, the WCSC announced a recall to repair the horizontal blinds and modified its products to reapir horizontal blinds to prevent strangulation hazards. The industry offered consumer free repair kits for existing horizontal blinds and other window coverings.
The industry offers a Web site www.windowcoverings.org and phone number (800) 506-4636 to provide parents with a free repair kit.
What Consumers Can Do
Parents should their window covering to make sure they are safe. Many of the hazardous blinds were hung years ago and present a danger today. Parents should:
- Look for accessible cords on the front, side or back of the product. The CPSC recommends cordless window coverings in all home where children live or visit.
- Do not place cribs, beds or furniture close to a window where the window covering can be accessed by little hands.
- Make loose cords inaccessible
- If the window shade does have a looped bead chain or a nylon cord, install a tension device the keep the cord taut.
- Roll-up blinds pose a strangulation threat if the lifting loop slides off the side of the blind and a child's neck becomes entangled in it, or if a child's neck gets between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.
The CPSC Web site has pictures of the various blinds that are involved in the recall. #