WINDOW COVERINGS SAFETY CONCERNS & SOLUTIONS
Easy Steps to Prevent Window-Cord Accidents
The accidental strangulation of infants and young children in the cords of window blinds, shades and drapes continues to be an issue, with both inner and pull cords remaining a concern for today's busy parents.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 200 infants and young children have died from accidentally strangling in window cords since 1990. The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) recommends that parents check all windows in the home and follow these cord-safety rules:
With young children in the home, cord safety is an important factor when choosing window treatments. Although many of today's window fashions come with built-in cord-safety features that meet the latest safety standards, WCSC recommends the use of cordless products in children's bedrooms and play areas.
Almost every type of corded window fashion is now available in a cordless style. Horizontal blinds and miniblinds, as well as pleated and cellular shades, are frequently transformed into cordless products through the use of spring-loaded mechanisms. Wand controls can eliminate cords on vertical blinds and traditionally non-corded roller shades and curtains are always options for consumers.
Those who wish to keep their older window coverings, however, can retrofit them for safety with free kits available through the WCSC Web site, www.windowcoverings.org, or by calling 1-800-506-4636.
Keep Children Safe at all Ages
Children and window cords don't mix. When window cords are accessible to small children, these seemingly harmless products may become strangulation hazards.
This is especially important with older window coverings that may not meet the latest national standard for window cord safety.
The Window Covering Safety Council urges you to check all areas of your home for potential window cord hazards. Replace or retrofit blinds, shades and draperies purchased before 2001 with today's safer products.
And remember to always follow these basic window-cord safety rules:
Decorating your childs room is a fun and exciting time, but make sure your decorating inspirations are grounded in safety. Many parents mistakenly believe that window cords only pose a potential strangulation danger to newborns and infants who spend a great deal of time sleeping.
However, safety experts say that once a child reaches the age of three or four, parents need to be especially vigilant in restricting a childs access to window areas. It is not uncommon for accidents involving children of this age to occur during active play.
Curious toddlers and older children may climb onto low-standing furniture or bookcases, either to peek out a window or to use the window cord as a Tarzan-type swing. Some unknowingly spin in circles while holding onto a window cord, inadvertently winding the cord around themselves. Others pretend the cord is a necklace or cowboy lasso, which can tragically become a noose when the child jumps off the furniture or windowsill area to the floor.
Low-standing furniture placed near a window is of particular concern. Safety experts say toy chests, under-the-window couches and bookshelves, beanbag chairs, large cachepots for indoor plants and computer towers all can serve as "hidden stepstools" that a young child might use to reach a window or window cords.
Parents focusing on the safety of their older children should also decorate with safety in mind for babys room. Areas such as cribs and windows are often the focus of decorating ideas for nurseries. Parents should be particular in selecting these products as they can pose hidden hazards to a babys safety.
Crib and cradle slats should be no more than 2 inches apart, and the crib itself should be sturdy, in good repair, and with a mattress that fits snugly. Avoid placing fluffy comforters or pillows in the crib, where they might accidentally smother a baby.
Always place the crib away from any windows in the room, preferably on another wall. Most reports of accidental window-cord strangulations involve window cords within reach of an infants crib or playpen.
Both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) recommend that parents use cordless window coverings in childrens bedrooms, as well as any room where a child regularly sleeps or plays. Parents are urged to move all low-standing furniture, cribs, and beds away from windows in any areas of the home where young children spend time.
A simple cordless window covering in a neutral color, with a brightly patterned valence or topper to pick up the rooms decorating scheme and color palette is a popular and practical solution to safely adding style to a nursery or toddlers room.
If you elect to use existing blinds, shades or draperies in the babys room, make sure you check and retrofit for safety any corded window covering made before 2001. If youre not sure of the age of your blinds or drapes, check to make sure horizontal blinds and pleated shades are free from looped pull cords and are equipped with cord stops, and that the pull cords for draperies or vertical blinds are permanently attached to the floor or wall.
Free retrofit devices are available from the Window Covering Safety Councils Web site at www.windowcoverings.org, or by phoning their toll-free number at 1-800-506-4636. An illustrated guide to retrofitting older window coverings and a how-to-video can also be accessed on the Web site.
Additional information can be found in the new Hunter Douglas Child Safety for Your Home brochure, which is available at The Blind Alley in Bellevue, Washington or by downloading the brochure as a PDF here.