Safety Advocates Say Window Blind Rules Not Tough Enough

Filed under: In The News

Window Blind safety

More than 200 children in the United States have died in the last two decades from being strangled in window-cord related accidents with blinds and shades. Credit: Getty Images

The makers of window coverings want to soften regulations so they can sell more blinds with pull cords. They say it will give consumers more choices and be good for business.

Safety advocates say it will kill children.

Regulators in the United States, Canada and Europe told the window covering industry to enact rules to prevent kids from accidentally strangling themselves on window cords, so leaders of the Window Covering Manufacturers Association came up with a list of proposed regulations.

However, safety advocates say the regulations are weak and still allow manufacturers to use cords children can wrap around their necks.

Inez Tenenbaum, who chairs the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is frustrated.

"I encourage you to guard against accepting ... requirements that would continue to allow strangulation risks ... out of a misplaced desire for convenience, aesthetics or placating anyone who may wish to continue moving slowly, rather than proactively addressing this longstanding problem once and for all," Tenenbaum told manufacturers in a letter quoted by the Chicago Tribune.

Similarly upset is Linda Kaiser, the founder of Parents For Window Blind Safety. She's among the safety consultants and regulators on a committee to oversee the new regulations.

The Tribune reports she threatens to withdraw her support from the group if tough standards aren't enacted by October.

"I'm not going to risk the lives of children just so [companies] can have their products out and make money," Kaiser tells the paper.

The issue is personal for Kaiser. Her 1-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, strangled in her crib in 2002 after she got caught in the inner cord of blinds near her crib.

More than 200 children in the United States have died in the last two decades from being strangled in window-cord related accidents with blinds and shades, the Tribune reports.

Leaders of the Window Covering Manufacturers Association set voluntary standards for its products. Other people, such as Kaiser, give suggestions, but industry leaders ultimately have the last word. That is, unless the government cracks down. Tenenbaum tells the Tribune she's considering it.

But it's not that easy. Laws passed during the Reagan administration prohibit the Consumer Product Safety Commission from imposing rules unless officials can prove that the industry's own voluntary rules don't work.

Kaiser tells the Tribune she and other safety advocates are being ignored.

"The whole point ... of us working together is to eliminate the hazard, not to just band-aid it again which is what we've done for 20 years," Kaiser tells the newspaper.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.