Today’s post is a little bit of a PSA, but it’s an issue I feel so strongly about that I want as many parents, grandparents, and interior designers as possible to know about it.
A few months ago I was selling a lamp on the local mom list serve. When I invited the woman into my house, she immediately commented on the blinds in my living room. They were old, dark wood blinds with cords running through them and on the sides. She started to tear up, telling me that I should replace them immediately, and I knew she was absolutely right. She said she had a good friend whose three-year-old daughter died instantly in a corded blind accident a few months prior. I have been 100% aware of the dangers of corded blinds since I was pregnant with Oliver, but I just hadn’t mustered up the time and money to replace them until recently. Her story reminded me that I needed to act sooner rather than later. According to statistics released by the CPSC, nearly one child every two weeks dies from strangulation by window blind cords. Retailers are aware of the problem – it was recently reported that IKEA and Target have ceased to sell window coverings with cords. But not all retailers are willing to take a hit to their profits so it is up to us as consumers to make the best decisions for our families.
You would think kids are smart enough to not wrap a cord around their neck or stick their head through the back of a roman shade, but really, they aren’t. Kids do incredibly stupid and unexplainable things sometimes. Just ask my mom – she could go on and on about the horrible things my six siblings and I used to do. Some accidents are bound to happen – for example, they might fall and cut their cheek on the sidewalk, or fall out of a bunk bed, or get their fingers jammed in a doorway, or slam their head into the corner of the coffee table and require a trip to the E.R. for stitches on their head. Yeah, those situations suck and of course you don’t want them to happen, but the kid will eventually heal and live. There are some accidents, however, that a child cannot recover from, and two that are highly deadly are drowning in water and strangling in a window cord. The latter, however, is not as widely known about.
In a lot of cases, kids climb on top of a piece of furniture, start playing with a cord, then slip and fall. Strangling on a cord makes for a chillingly silent death, so a caregiver could even be in the next room and not know that it was occurring. A child loses consciousness within seconds and death occurs in less than one minute. It is reported that children ages 8 months to 7 years have strangled themselves on cords.
The below graphics depict the various ways that children can harm themselves in window cords:
And most chilling of all, this video demonstrates how quickly and silently strangulation can happen, and that older children are vulnerable as well.
The frustrating thing is, a lot of blinds out there are even marketed as “cordless” but they’re not! Retailers can market their product as “cordless” if there is no hanging cord to activate the up/down mechanism, but in fact there could be a cord running through the back of the shade or through the shade itself. This happened to me when I bought what I thought were stylish bamboo blinds from JCPenney (do not buy these!). They were marketed as “a cordless product safe for homes with young children” so I assumed they used a magnet to keep the blinds together when they were pushed up and down. When they arrived, I noticed there was indeed a cord blatantly running through the back of the shade. It even had child safety warning tags all over the box!!
Argh!! Shame on you JCPenney. Back to the store they went.
Finally, I purchased these cordless shades from SelectBlinds.com and I’m SO happy with them. Here is the before and after of my window treatments:
The SelectBlinds shades were actually very affordable and high quality. They are completely unobtrusive as you can see from the picture and incredibly easy to use. Just a simple push and pull with a finger raises them up and down. They come in several different colors and you can buy them as light filtering or blackout, which is great for use in different areas of the home. I also added a pair of ivory linen drapes just to frame the windows and add a little layering and vertical interest. Next up is my bedroom!
A lot of resources might tell you to retrofit your blinds with cleats or safety breakaway parts but the reality is that no blind with a cord running through it, whether it be on the pull mechanism, through the cord itself, or on the back of the shade, is safe if you live in a home with children or have children visit your home. The only answer is to install drapes, wood shutters, or completely cordless shades.
I hope this post has encouraged you to go cordless in your own home! For more information, visit Parents for Window Blind Safety.