Cords On Window Blinds Continue To Kill

Cords on window blinds continue to kill an average of one child a month, despite a 16-year federal push to make them safer.
According to safety groups, a new voluntary industry rule on window blind cords does not address all strangulation risks to children and ignores input from consumer advocates.
The voluntary standard just published by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) prohibits accessible inner cords on Roman shades but still allows long draw cords. Inner cords weave between the slats of horizontal blinds or attach to the back of Roman shades. Roman shades weren’t covered by voluntary rules for vertical and horizontal blinds enacted in the 1990s.
In December, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC, recalled about 50 million Roman shades and roll-up blinds after eight deaths and 16 near-strangulations were caused by the inner cords or loops during the 2000s. Roman shades, a popular replacement for Venetian blinds that have slats, are flat when lowered and create horizontal folds when raised.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum insisted consumer advocates be included on the committee updating the standard. But the advocacy groups, including representatives of Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America and Parents for Window Blind Safety, say the rule was already written by the time they got involved and their votes to reject the rule had no effect.
The WCMA said it plans to review the consumer groups’ comments in a meeting and will decide whether to incorporate any changes when the standard is revised again within two years. The group does urge consumers to use cordless products in homes with young children. But in a written response, the association said there are 1 billion blinds with cords that can’t function without them.
Linda Kaiser, who discovered in 2002 that her 1-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, had strangled on the inner cord of horizontal blinds, pushed for the inclusion of Roman shades in safety standards in 2003. The CPSC and consumer groups have long urged makers of blinds to eliminate cords altogether, cover them or reduce them to 7.25 inches, which is too short to strangle a child. The new rule stopped short of those recommendations.
Some manufacturers have eliminated cords.
Alan Schoem, of Marsh Risk Consulting and a former CPSC compliance chief, says it has taken too long for the industry to remove exposed, accessible cords from blinds.

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