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Window Blind Cord Loops Cause Strangling Deaths

In the past 30 years, hundreds of American babies and toddlers have strangled to death on mini blind cords. Accidental strangling deaths of small children occur on both outer cord loops (pull cords) and inner cord loops of mini blinds.

"Window blinds may have pull cords and inner cords that can form a loop and cause strangulation if children become entangled in the pull cords or the inner cords."
Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)

Child death rates from strangling on looped window cords is very high. The safety risk of children accidentally being hung on miniblind pulls and inner cords is well-known throughout the miniblind industry and consumer product regulatory agencies. Research has demonstrated that window blind cords pose among the greatest risk of death by strangulation to children three years old and younger.

History of Deadly Corded Blind Designs Marketed in the U.S.

Over the past 30 years, more than 339 children and/or persons have strangled to death on the cords of mini-blinds. The mini-blind industry has known that mini-blind draw-cords pose an unreasonable strangulation hazard since as early as 1985. Draw-cords pose an unreasonable strangulation hazard when they (i) contain a loop and/or (ii) when they are long and dangling, thereby allowing a child to wrap them around his/her neck and/or (iii) when separated cords are present and of such length as to allow them to re-tangle and/or re-knot, creating a loop.

In 1985, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) was asked to take action regarding the unreasonable strangulation hazard posed by mini-blind draw-cords by the family of a two and one-half year old boy who had strangled to death on the draw cords of a set of mini-blinds. In response, the CPSC formed a “New Project Identification”(“NPI”) team to look into mini-blind cord strangulations. NPI team recommended that a consumer alert be issued. Later that year, a product safety alert was published, informing consumers of the dangers of long mini-blind cords.

Despite the industry’s knowledge of the dangers posed by long, dangling mini-blind cords and inadequate warnings, the industry did not institute any design changes or recommend any particular warnings. Children continued to be hung accidentally by and strangle to death on miniblind cords.

In 1989, the CPSC had reissued the mini-blind cord safety alert in response to the realization that deaths were still occurring.

Shortly thereafter, concern increased among consumers about the safety risks existing beyond that posed by the draw cords of mini-blinds. Specifically, consumers focused attention on the additional danger that the inner-cords of mini-blinds also presented an unreasonable strangulation hazard, one that was even less appreciated by consumers.

Mini-blind cord strangulation deaths of children continued.

The Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC)

In 1994, members of the mini-blind industry formed the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), a business trade group to protect the financial interests of its members.

1994 Window Blind Cord Voluntary Retrofit

The newly-formed Window Covering Safety Council decided to implement a voluntary retrofit program (that would not alleviate the dangers posed by mini-blind cords).

The 1994 voluntary retrofit program advises consumers that separating the draw-cords of their mini-blinds and placing a tassel on the end of each cord would eliminate the product danger and defect, thereby luring customers into a false sense of security that their mini-blinds were safe, when in reality, they were not. The retrofit program failed to adequately address strangulation by way of wrap around, the inner cords, and the recreation of loops through knotting and/or tangling. Further, the retrofit program was not sufficiently disseminated to have constituted an effective recall, even if the alleged “fix” was implemented.

Inner Blind Cord Strangulation Risk - The 7.25" Standard

The 1994 voluntary retrofit program did not address the dangers of inner cord strangulation. Consumers voiced their concern that by following the industry’s safety advice (tucking the draw cords out of the reach of their child) parents were being lulled into a false sense of security regarding the safety of their mini-blinds. Children strangled to death on the inner cord of the mini blind.

In 1996, the industry approved an ANSI safety standard. The number of mini-blind related deaths per year remained unchanged.

In 2000, another mini-blind voluntary retrofit program was instructed whereby inner cord stops were placed and mini-blinds on the hanging end of mini-blind cords in an attempt to reduce the risk of strangulation. The 2000 voluntary retrofit program did not adequately address strangulation by way of wrap around, the inner cords, and the recreation of loops through knotting and/or tangling. Also, like the 1994 program, it was not funded or disseminated sufficiently to be an effective recall, even if the alleged “fix” was implemented. Despite approximately one billion dangerous mini-blinds being in existence throughout the United States, only several hundred thousand of the mini-blinds industry’s retrofit kits have been distributed.

In 2001, the CPSC expressed concern that the ANSI standard in place at that time did not address strangulation in inner cords, exposed cords, or bead chains. Specifically, the CPSC explained that the strangulation hazard posed by mini-blinds could be eliminated only if mini-blinds were designed with exposed cords less than 7 1/4 inches long in any position.

The letter further explained that the less than 7 1/4 inch standard the CPSC was recommending would have prevented the incidents from 1997 through 2000 that involved exposed cords, while the industry proposed revised ANSI standard would not. Nevertheless, when the industry finally formally revised the ANSI standard in 2002, it did not require that exposed cords be less than 7 1/4 inches in any position. The new standard did not adequately address strangulation on mini-blind inner cords, did not adequately address strangulations by draw cords being wrapped around a victim’s neck, and did not adequately address the dangers posed by separated tassels being knotted or twisted back together.

Mini-Blinds Still Pose Risk of Injury & Death by Strangulation

Despite revisions of the Standard for Safety of Corded Window Covering Products in 2007 and 2009, children continue to be hung and suffer strangling injuries and strangulation deaths on mini-blinds known to pose such safety risks to children.