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Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) Issues Advisory on Child Strangulation Risk Posed by Older Window Coverings

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The CPSC, the Window Covering Safety Council, and independent retailers have joined forces for Window Covering Safety Month to advise consumers on the importance of repairing or replacing window coverings purchased prior to 2001.  

Young children can strangle themselves when they become entangled in the inner or outer cord on older window coverings.  

There have been about 200 reports of strangulation deaths involving cords and chains on window coverings since 1991.  The outer pull cords are typically responsible for these deaths but at least 20 of these deaths were attributed to the inner cords which run through horizontal blinds.

Strangulation deaths from inner-pull cords primarily involve ages 2 months to 20 months while outer cord deaths typically involve children ages 7 months to 6 years.  Some of the youngest victims die as a result of their crib or playpen being within reach of window coverings.  

Redesigned products have been manufactured by the window covering industry in hopes of reducing cord hazards.  Some of the features of the redesigned models are reduced occurrences of hazardous loops and tie-down anchors and built-in chord straps that are permanently attached.

Despite the attempts to repair and redesign window coverings, the risk of strangulation is still prevalent because of long, dangling window cords and chains.  Consumers should avoid tying window blind cords or chains together at all costs because the knot only creates a new hazardous loop.

Throughout the month of October, CSPC is strongly urging consumers to closely inspect the cords and chains of all their window coverings and to think about using cordless coverings and other alternatives wherever possible.  

Any consumers with window coverings purchased prior to 2001 can obtain a free repair kit from the Window Covering Safety Council’s Web site at www.windowcoverings.org or by calling (800) 504-4636.  Individuals can also visit www.cpsc.gov to learn more about window covering safety.

These five safety tips are offered by the CPSC:

1.    Move all cribs, beds, furniture, and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall.
2.    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.
3.    To prevent inner-cord hazards, lock cords into position when lowering horizontal coverings or shades.
4.    Repair window coverings, corded shades, and draperies manufactured before 2001 with retrofit cord-repair devices, or replace them with today’s safer products.
5.    Consider installing cordless window coverings in children’s bedrooms and play areas.

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