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Major Stores Stop Selling Dangerous, Corded Window Blinds

Steve Wagner

Over the second half of 2015, both IKEA and Target decided to stop selling window blinds with cords. This decision was prompted by the 30-year struggle to regulate the dangerous items, which have caused nearly 500 deaths and injuries, with estimated minor incidents of strangling going unreported. Though slower to put plans into action, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart have also recently announced they will stop shelving and selling corded blinds by the end of 2018.

The specific problem is that during play (or in the rare occasion, sleep), small children either intentionally or unintentionally wrap the looped window blind cords around their necks and hang themselves. Window cord strangulation has caused death and serious brain injury in hundreds of children, and yet the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the window blind industry have been unable to agree upon a ban. The window blind industry has argued for further education, stating that a large majority of homes with blinds do not have small children in them. Partly for this reason, it makes sense to them to keep the corded option and to education retailers and parents about the importance of shopping for cordless blinds in rooms where children stay and play. The Chairman of the CPSC, Elliot Kaye, strongly disagrees with this approach.

CPSC Pushes Back…Again

In 2014 and 2015, the CPSC renewed its push for greater attention and care for safety from the window blind industry, finding the continued number of child deaths and injuries to be unacceptable, particularly given the amount of time the industry has known about the dangers. Kaye believes that at the end of the day, the industry’s resistance to change is purely about the bottom line. Blinds with cords make up an estimated 75% of the two billion dollars in yearly sales in the United States. In addition to this possible loss of sales, the CPSC believes moving to corded-only production will result in an increase in manufacturing costs by about $5.50 per item (or $619 million/year).

Though the CPSC has long attempted to convince the window blind industry to act voluntarily, the Commission decided in 2014 to begin the lengthy rulemaking process that they hope will lead to the implementation of a mandatory standard. This decision was, at least in part, due to the petitions of numerous consumer groups. While the number of yearly deaths has decreased after numerous recalls and voluntary revisions, even one avoidable death or catastrophic brain injury to a child is too many.

Keeping Your Child Safe

There are a few things you can do to help keep your child safe. Obviously, the strongest recommendation is to remove corded blinds from any area where the child plays or sleeps. When choosing new blinds, be aware that current safety labeling may be confusing, with both corded and cordless blinds featuring the same warning despite gigantic differences in the dangers accorded to each. Also pay close attention to the older blinds in your home, especially if you still have roman or roll-up blinds or other types of blinds with looped cords. These were recalled long ago and should be replaced. By far, the most injuries and deaths are attributed to horizontal blinds, and most serious injuries occur to children ages five and younger.

No one should have to suffer the loss of a child. If your child was seriously injured or died as a result of defective or dangerous window blind cord, the product liability attorneys at Wagner Reese can provide the legal experience you need to stand up to the window blind industry. Call our Indianapolis-based law firm today to discuss how we can help you to recover past or ongoing medical costs, lost wages, and other damages: (888) 204-8440.

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