The importance of child-safe window blinds and shades can't be understated

Mar 21 2011

Cords from window blinds and shades can be a serious hazard for toddlers and small children.
Cords from window blinds and shades can be a serious hazard for toddlers and small children.
Window blinds and shades are one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption, control the amount of light in your home and to add a decorative touch to your interior. While window treatments such as these may seem fairly innocuous to some, they can be a major concern for families with small children. There have been numerous deaths throughout the world of small children who have suffocated from getting tangled in the draw-strings.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland last year, six children tragically died due to strangulation from tangling up with the cords of window blinds. Oftentimes this occurred in the bedroom of children aged 16 to 36 months where cribs were closer to the window. The incidents have spawned a number of public awareness programs such as the one formed by Pat and John Astley, who created a device called Window Blind Safe. This device will convert old designs to help keep cords out of reach of little hands.

A great rule of thumb for homeowners that the inventors use in their public awareness campaign is the Wrap-A-Round test. If you can wrap your window blind cord around your hand, then your children are at risk in your own home, according to MadeforMums.com.

In late 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued one of the largest consumer product recalls in United States' history by recalling almost every Roman blind or roller shade on the market, close to 50 million products, due to the strangulation hazard caused by the cords, according to ABC News. The recall was brought about by a slew of deaths throughout the country that left eight children dead and 16 toddlers seriously injured.

After the widespread recall was issued and manufacturers were forced to change their designs, the CPSC released a list of guidelines to help consumers put a plan in action to stop this preventable disaster. First and foremost, the CPSC advises parents to go through their home and inspect the cords on all of their window treatments. If there are exposed cords on the front, back, or sides of the blinds, consumers should tie them such that the cords can only be accessible from the top of the window.

One of the easiest ways to avoid the risk of tangling in cords is by placing your child's crib, bed and furniture away from the windows. This is the most obvious step for parents and will help reduce the risk of injury. After parents have moved furniture and taken account of their window treatments, it's probably a good idea to install cordless window treatments such as fabric shades into play areas and bedrooms where children will spend a majority of their time.

Today's window treatments have evolved by leaps and bounds to ensure child safety by the addition of spring operated cords and cordless designs that will make it much harder for a child to become tangled. Along with a greater interest in safety, today's window treatment manufacturers offer a wide range of colors, fabrics and styles to suit any décor.

Fabric designs such as Roman shades or Solar Screen shades could be the perfect option for your child's bedroom. With recessed and cordless designs, you can be confident in the safety of your new purchase. The shades are available in room-darkening or light-filtering varieties for the proper illumination for your space. Lastly, the shades will reduce the cost of your utility bills by controlling air leakage and improving the overall energy-efficiency of your home.  
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