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CPSC Votes to Make Mandatory Standards for Window Covering Cords

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to start a rulemaking process that would protect kids from the strangulation hazard that comes with window coverings with exposed or dangling cords. October is Window Covering Safety Month.

A child’s neck can get caught and tangled up cord, resulting in strangulation or suffocation. Some children that are lucky enough to survive such an incident are left with permanent brain injuries.

According to the CPSC, between ’96 and ’12 approximately 184 young children and babies died from window cord strangulation. There were over 100 non-fatal strangulation accidents involving the cords of window shades and blinds during that time period, with 1,590 kids needing medical care because of incidents involving these products.

The Consumer Federation of America reports that earlier this year, four kids died from window cord strangulation incidents over a twenty-two day period. There have been at least three other window cord-related deaths and one serious injury so far in 2014.

In Massachusetts, our Boston products liability lawyers represent clients who have sustained injuries because of dangerous or defective products. Please contact Altman & Altman LLP to request your free case consultation with an experienced window cord injury attorney.

Now, the CPSC is looking to create mandatory window covering safety standards, especially as voluntary standards have not been enough to get manufacturers to only make window coverings that have the least risk of strangulation, suffocation, and death. For example, there are cordless blinds in the marketplace, yet companies persist in making window coverings with dangling or exposed cords. The CPSC’s vote comes a year after safety and consumer groups submitted a petition asking the agency to tackle the strangulation risks of window blind cords.

Meantime, those that oppose the implementation of stricter regulations say that a ban on window blinds with accessible cords could cost thousands of jobs. They also believe that the higher cost of cordless window blinds could up the chance of injury because consumers might stick to their older products longer. The CPSC’s own data indicates that over 80% of strangulation incidents involved older window blinds that did not meet even today’s standards.

Also according to CPSC data, vertical and horizontal blinds are involved in about 70% of window covering cord accidents. Pull cords are a factor in 41% of incidents, while looped cords play a part in 28% of window cord accidents. Over the years, the CPSC has announced major recalls when window blinds and their cords have caused serious injury or death.

Steps that parents can take to lower the risks of window cord injuries:

• Use cordless window coverings • Make sure any window covering cords are out of the kids’ reach • Keep all furniture, especially beds, cribs, and sofas, away from any window cords • Adjust pull cords so that they are as short as possible • Anchor the continuous-loop pull cords found on drapes and make sure the cords are pulled tight
CPSC Votes to Develop Mandatory Safety Standards for Window Coverings to Protect Children, ConsumerFed.org, October 8, 2014

October is Window Covering Safety Month: CPSC Urges Parents to Inspect Homes for Hidden and Deadly Window Cord Hazards, CPSC, October 9, 2014

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