Window Blind Tragedy Helped Bring About Massive Recall

Parental activism is being credited with helping to bring about yesterday’s massive <"">window blind recall. According to a report in The Chicago Tribune, a group founded by the mother of a little girl strangled to death in the cords of a window blind had been pushing for such a recall for several years.

The window blind recall, announced jointly by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), was one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history. As we reported, the recall involves 50 million Roman shades and roll-up window blinds – every such blind on the market. Several retailers, including Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Pottery Barn and Big Lots, also issued their own recalls yesterday.

According to the CPSC, Roman shades have been implicated in the deaths of five children and 16 near strangulations since 2006. Roll-up blinds have been cited in three strangulation deaths since 2001. Strangulations in Roman shades can occur when a child places their neck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind or when a child pulls the cord out and wraps it around their neck, the agency said. Strangulations in roll-up blinds can occur if the lifting loop slides off the side of the blind and a child’s neck becomes entangled on the free-standing loop or if a child places his/her neck between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Linda Kaiser of Elgin, Illinois is only too aware of the dangers posed by Roman shades and roll-up blinds. In 2002, her year-old daughter, Cheyenne, became entangled in the inner cords of a window blind, and strangled to death as her twin brother slept nearby. The tragedy led Elgin to found a nonprofit group called Parents for Window Blind Safety, and she began pushing for a window blind recall.

A spokesperson with the CPSC told The Chicago Tribune that parental pressure does play a role in bringing hazards to the government’s attention and spurring it to act. An official with the group Kids in Danger praised Kaiser’s perseverance and determination in pushing for the window blind recall.

Kaiser told the Tribune that she was very happy when she learned of yesterday’s recall. Kaiser pointed out that when her twins were born, she went to great pains to make sure her home was baby-proofed. She had taken the advice of safety experts and had tied up the pull cords on the blind that killed her daughter. Like many parents, she likely didn’t realize the inner cords on such blinds posed a danger as well. In hindsight, Kaiser she would not have put Cheyenne’s crib in reach of a window, but at the time she had limited options due to space restrictions.

If you have one of the blinds included in this week’s recall, contact the WCSC immediately at or by calling (800) 506-4636 anytime to receive a free repair kit. The agency has also issued the following guidelines to help parents and caregivers keep their children safe:

• Examine all shades and blinds in the home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. CPSC and the WCSC recommend the use of cordless window coverings in all 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.

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