Window blinds in U.S. homes have been a known child safety hazard for more than 70 years. But despite existing voluntary safety standards and prior recalls, a January 2018 Pediatrics study found that window blind cords continue to pose serious strangulation risk to young children.
According to the study, “Pediatric Injuries Related to Window Blinds, Shades, and Cords” (published online Dec. 11), nearly 17,000 children under age 6 were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for window blind-related injuries from 1990 through 2015. Injury risk was highest among toddlers. Among children who became entangled in cords, most frequently it happened while the child was under the care of a parent and left alone for less than 10 minutes--often after being put to bed.
On average, roughly one child died each month – usually from strangulation after the child’s neck became entangled in inner cords, such as those in horizontal blinds and roman shades, as well as in cords that raise or lower the blinds. Children also got caught in continuous loop cords such as those in vertical blinds and roll-up shades, and even in loops tied by consumers attempting to keep the cords out of a child’s reach. Two-thirds of the entanglements resulted in death.
Authors of the study said their findings suggest a mandatory safety standard eliminating accessible window blind cords should be adopted.