The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued its largest recall in history Wednesday, involving millions of potentially dangerous window blinds. The recall involves a little-known problem with horizontal window blinds. This dangerous problem has already killed 16 small children.
One child's death prompted action. In August of 1998, Eric and Elizabeth Beller laid 16-month-old Hanna down for a nap. They thought the room was childproof, but tragically they would find out it wasn't. "I went to wake her up give her a bottle and go out to dinner,â€ said Elizabethâ€™s father. â€œBut when I opened the door in the room, I saw her hanging from the inner cord within the mini blind. I was thinking it was a nightmare that couldn't possibly be possible."
The cord that killed Hanna was not the end cord; her parents had moved those out of the way. It was the inner cord that holds the slats in place. "I noticed that she was very blue, and he handed her to me, and her head kind of fell back,â€ Elizabethâ€™s mother explained. â€œAnd there was this dark bruise around her neck. So I knew at that point that she was dead.â€
The Beller childâ€™s death prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission to investigate the construction of the window blinds. About 85 million window blinds are sold each year. However, the blinds in question have pull cords or inner cords that can form a loop. If a child puts the loop around their neck, they can be strangled.
Since 1991, 130 children have been killed because of blind cords. 16 of them from the inner cord like the young Beller child. If you have a mini blind with the inner cord, you can get a free repair kit by calling the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636. You can also visit their web site
to get more information on checking your window covering. The repair kit will include small plastic attachments to prevent the inner cords from being pulled loose. The kit also includes safety tassels for pre-1995 window blinds with outer pull cords ending in loops. Consumers should cut the loops and install a safety tassel at the end of each pull cord. Consumers who have vertical blinds, draperies or pleated shades with continuous loop cords should request special tie-downs to prevent strangulation in those window coverings.
Parents should keep window covering cords and chains permanently out of the reach of children. Never place a childâ€™s crib within reach of a window blind. Unless the cords can be completely removed from the childâ€™s reach, including when the child climbs on furniture, CPSC recommends that parents never knot or tie the cords together because this creates a new loop in which a child could become entangled.
Consumers who have young children may wish to consider purchasing cordless window coverings. These are made by a number of firms.