One of the top hidden dangers in the home is a classic household decoration.
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that window blinds with chords continue to pose a “serious strangulation risk” as they kill approximately one child per month. The study observed 17,000 cases involving strangulation from blind cords and young kids between 1990 and 2015, and discovered that 271 children were killed.
“We’ve known about this problem since the 1940s, yet we continue to see these deaths. This is simply unacceptable because we know how to prevent them,” said study author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children can wrap window covering cords around their necks or can become entangled in loops formed by cords (which may not be visible, but are accessible).
Such was the case when the 3-year-old daughter of former NFL player Reno Mahe died last November, after an incident involving the cord of a window blind cut off Elsie Mahe’s air supply for an unknown amount of time. The child eventually suffered a seizure and couldn’t breathe without assistance. An MRI exam showed extensive brain damage.
Since parents cant watch their children “every second of every day,” Smith is pushing for all window covers to be cordless, because voluntary recommendations haven’t done enough to stop these incidents from occurring.
“There are affordable cordless blinds and shades on the market now that are safe. What we need is for all manufacturers to simply eliminate accessible cords in their products. That’s the solution,” he said.
Paul Nathanson, a spokesman for the Window Covering Manufacturers Association told NBC News that the industry has been working “diligently” to reduce the strangulation risk posed by certain corded window coverings.
“In fact, the most significant change to the window covering safety standard since its inception in 1996 is in its final stage of approval,” Nathanson said. He added that the latest safety standard revision will require more than 80 percent of all window covering products sold in the U.S. and Canada to be cordless or have inaccessible cords.
“Consumers today can look for the ‘Best for Kids’ certification label to identify cordless window covering options.”
The CPSC has provided tips to help prevent cord strangulation:
– Use cordless or inaccessible cord window coverings in homes where young children live or visit.
– Don’t place cribs, beds and furniture close to the windows.
– Check that cords are out of reach of young children and can’t form dangerous loops.