Growing Alarm Over Window Blind Cord Dangers

A number of parents and advocacy groups are sounding the alarm over dangers posed by a seemingly innocuous part of most homes – window blind cords.

Advocates say that in addition to covering electrical outlets and blocking stairways, new parents should address window blind cord dangers when they have young children in the home. However, say parents, window blind cord dangers are often overlooked.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has listed window blind cords as one of the top five hidden dangers in most homes.

“People think it won’t happen to them, that it’s a fluke, they say ‘I watch my kids,’ ” one advocate told NPR in a recent report. “Nobody watches their kids 24-7.”

Window blind cord dangers are more common than most people think. Emergency rooms reported that between 1990 and 2015, 16,000 children were brought in for injuries – nearly two children a day. Tragically, 271 children died from window cord blinds during that time. Further, the numbers reported do not account for children who were injured or died from window blind cords, but not brought into an emergency room.

“Most of these accidents happen during nap time or when they’re supposed to be sleeping, and no one watches their child while they’re sleeping,” the advocate told NPR reporters. “It only takes under a minute for a child to lose consciousness because their air supply is cut off.”

The NPR report points out that window blind cord dangers are hard for families who rent to address, particularly lower income families, because they are often restricted from making modifications to their housing. Additionally, there is currently very little regulation of day care facilities or foster homes about the presence of corded blinds.

Further, advocates say, it is not just parental awareness of window blind cord danger that needs to change, but also how window blinds are manufactured. It is not enough for pediatricians to educate parents about the danger, one physician told NPR, there needs to be safe alternatives to corded blinds.

The Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) offers free retrofit kits for various corded window blinds. The WCMA also notes that motorized window blinds are revolutionizing the industry, making cordless window blinds accessible to the elderly and those with disabilities.

While standards will be updated for newly manufactured products in 2018, advocates point out that window cord blind dangers will still be present in millions of homes with older models. Further, many families will not be able to afford the new cordless models and some may be restricted by rental agreements.

“Millions and millions of window coverings out there have cords and exposed string in them,” said one advocate according to the NPR report. “We are trying to get out the urgent message to be aware of the hidden danger, especially if you have young children around or visiting.”

Advocates recommend parents pull the blinds way up so they and the cords out of reach or, if that’s not possible, to use alternatives such as shades.

If you or a loved one has been affected by window blind cord dangers, contact the attorneys at Bradley/Grombacher.