Window Covering Makers May Finally Go Cordless to Avert Child Strangulation Deaths

By Denise Johnson | August 26, 2016

Window covering cords have been the cause of more than 800 deaths of children globally, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The hidden hazard occurs when a child gets entangled within the loose cords.

In 2014, the federal safety agency documented four deaths of children strangled to death from cords on a window covering within a 22-day period: a 6-year-old girl in Maryland; a 3-year-old girl in Texas; a 4-year-old boy in Georgia; and a 2-year-old boy in Maryland.

Just two months ago, the U.S. agency joined 24 other countries during an international safety campaign in order to prevent future child strangulations associated with accessible window covering cords.

The CPSC compiled a list noting the countries and number of deaths or injuries associated with window cords. There have been 184 deaths among U.S. children recorded between 1996-2012. Agency staff also estimated that 1,590 children received treatment for injuries resulting from entanglements in window covering cords during that same time period. Reportedly 49 percent of these type of strangulations go unreported, according to the CPSC.

The agency has identified window covering cords as one of the top five hidden hazards in a home and it estimates one child per month between 7 months old and 10 years old dies as a result of strangulation while another child suffers near strangulation. More than five million window coverings – Roman shades, roller and roll up blinds, vertical and horizontal blinds – have been recalled by the CPSC. According to the safety organizationParents for Window Blind Safety (PFWBS), cords in excess of 7 ¼ inches are the biggest hazard to kids.

CPSC window blindsPFWBS analysis indicates that horizontal blinds are involved in the most strangulation accidents at 57.5 percent. Vertical blinds follow at 17.3 percent, and drapery cords rounds out the top three with 12.5 percent.

As a result of multiple safety agencies and organizations working together, the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) announced in June that it will develop and submit for ballot a revised window covering safety standard this year. According to the association, the WCMA represents the interests of window covering industry manufacturers, fabricators and assemblers. Products manufactured by members include blinds, shades, shutters, curtains, curtain rods, drapes, drapery hardware and other window treatments.

The announcement stated “As a result of technological advances in the industry, WCMA is optimistic that there is a historic opportunity for this updated standard to further reduce the risk of entanglement and strangulation from window coverings with accessible cords. Ongoing industry innovation and new product development have resulted in the industry’s ability to deliver a variety of consumer accepted options that will allow WCMA to revise the standard using new approaches that will effectively address the risk posed to young children by window coverings with accessible cords. We are also confident that the performance standard created by such an approach will result in the vast majority of window products sold in the U.S. being cordless or having inaccessible cords.”

According to CPSC chairman, Elliot Kaye, “substantial revision to the standard this year could, at a minimum, mean the vast majority of window covering products sold in the U.S. by WCMA members would be cordless or have inaccessible cords —meaning they would be safe for children—as soon as possible in 2018.”

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