Consumer Groups Call on CPSC to Take Action After Recent Window Blind Deaths

Consumer Groups Call on CPSC to Take Action After Recent Window Blind Deaths
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March 12, 2014

Parents for Window Blind Safety, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and Independent Safety Consulting have called on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to take effective action to protect children from the preventable strangulation hazard posed by cords on window coverings in light of four children's deaths in three weeks.

Over just 22 days in February, four children were strangled to death from cords on a window covering: a 6-year-old girl in Maryland on February 8th; a 3-year-old girl in Texas on February 15th; a 4-year-old boy in Georgia on February 17th; and a 2-year-old boy in Maryland on March 1st. Each of these children died after the cord of a window covering strangled them. These most recent tragic incidents contribute to the already long list of 293 deaths and serious injuries caused by these products between 1996 and 2012.

According to CPSC documents dating back to 1983, an average of 12 children are strangled to death every year in loops formed from the cords on window coverings.

"It is time for CPSC to take action to protect children from the hazards posed by cords on window coverings. Every day the Commission does not act, children are put at risk. Four children dying in three weeks is tragic, unacceptable and preventable," stated Linda Kaiser, founder and president of Parents for Window Blind Safety. Linda Kaiser and her husband Matt formed Parents for Window Blind Safety in 2002, after their daughter, Cheyenne Rose, died as a result of being strangled by a window blind cord.

On May 23, 2013, the Consumer Federation of America, Parents for Window Blind Safety, Kids In Danger, Consumers Union, Independent Safety Consulting, and other organizations filed a petition with CPSC, requesting that the CPSC promulgate a mandatory standard that prohibits hazardous accessible operating cords on window coverings. The petition documented the failure of the industry to rein in this hazard despite their knowledge since 1983 that infants and young children were strangling on accessible window covering cords at a rate of 1 or more per month.

"A strong mandatory standard by the CPSC is necessary to protect children. For almost 20 years, the voluntary standard has failed to address the strangulation posed to children. In light of the history of the voluntary standard, the documented and persistent hazard that cords on window coverings pose to children, and these recent deaths, it is time for CPSC to act," stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and senior counsel at Consumer Federation of America.

According to the groups, products and technology already on the market can protect children. Window coverings that eliminate accessible, hazardous cords are available, add minimum costs to the manufacturing of blinds, and can be used on the vast majority of blinds and shades. In addition, designs that render the pull cords of window coverings inaccessible have been available since the 1990's but were never sold in the marketplace because the CPSC allowed separated cord tassels to serve as a compliant design.

"A mandatory standard that eliminates hazardous, accessible cords is necessary to protect children from strangulation. Further, a mandatory standard levels the playing field for manufacturers, in terms of costs. Without such a standard, future generations of children will continue to perish and the small, innovative manufacturers who have invested the time and money to develop safe window coverings will go out of business and stop producing these products leaving consumers without safer alternatives," stated Carol Pollack-Nelson, Ph.D. of Independent Safety Consulting.