After child strangulations, 50 million window coverings recalled

Consumer Reports News: December 15, 2009 01:34 PM

Fifty million Roman shades and roll-up blinds were "recalled for repair" today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council announced, because the window coverings pose a strangulation hazard to young children.

In the past  three years, the CPSC has received reports of five deaths and 16 near strangulations with Roman shades. There have been three deaths since 2001 associated with roll-up blinds. Since 1990 there have been 200 fatalities.

"Over the past 15 years, CPSC has been investigating window covering hazards and working with the WCSC to ensure the safety of window coverings," said Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC Chairman. "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."

The "repair kits" and instructions for retrofitting blinds and shades are beings offered by the WCSC and are featured on its Web site. The method depends on the type of blinds or shades you have. Looped cords should be cut into two single strands. Beaded chains or nylon cords should be tightly tethered to the wall. For more information, illustrations and to order the free retrofit kits, go to the WCSC's Web site or call WCSC's toll-free phone line at 1-800-506-4636.

CordStops_illustration Several major retailers are also participating in the recall including Walmart, JCPenney, Pottery Barn, Ace Hardware, Big Lots and West Elm. Check the CPSC's Web site for the individual recall notices.

The CPSC and WCSC urge parents to check all the window coverings in their homes and to follow these guidelines:
  • Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. Cordless window coverings are recommended for homes where children live or visit.
  • Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture close to the windows because children can climb on them and gain access to the cords.
  • Make loose cords inaccessible.
  • If the window shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, install tension devices to keep the cord taut.

Our take: This is one of the largest recalls in history. We are pleased to see that the CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council are taking measures to help prevent the child strangulation. The hazards of window blind and shade cords have been known for many years. It seems unfathomable that manufacturers are still making deigns with hazardous cords and that retailers are still selling them.

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