The Dangers of Window Blind Cord
Over the past few decades, it has become apparent that window blinds can present a serious risk of severe injury and even death. Specifically, the cord attached to the window blind has the potential to strangle people of all ages, including young children.
When parents think about the dangers that their toddlers might have to deal with, they often think about electrical outlets, hot surfaces, and cleaning supplies. Window blind cords are often overlooked; however, these cords are not a recent issue. Over the past several decades, numerous research studies and regulations have been published to warn both window manufacturers and families about the dangers of these cords. A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics highlighted the risks of these cords. According to the study:
- Between 1990 to 2015, more than 17,000 children were taken to the emergency room due to injuries related to window blinds.
- This is about 700 children per year or about two kids per day.
- About one child a month was killed by window blind cord strangulation.
The past few decades have seen multiple failed efforts to eliminate the dangers posed by window blind cords. The industry has imposed six different changes to its set of standards to reduce the injuries and deaths caused by these cords. Unfortunately, these have all failed. Furthermore, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission actually lists window blinds as one of their top hidden dangers in homes in this country. What some people may not know is that technology has been installed to eliminate window blind cords altogether; however, this has not become mainstream.
The manufacturers of window blinds benefit from the continued use of these cords and the lax regulation. The cords are relatively easy to use and inexpensive to manufacture. Therefore, without strict regulation, these cords continue to benefit their bottom line. Installing new technology to replace these window blind cords would be expensive and hurt their profit margin.Specific Examples: The Many Dangers Presented by Window Cords
Children end up in the emergency room every day due to the dangers presented by window blind cords. These preventable injuries and deaths are nothing short of a tragedy. There are several ways that cords can ensnare a child, and it is essential for everyone to be able to spot these dangers.
- Looped Pull Cord: Some pool cords are one continuous loop that can be used to adjust the blinds. The loop at the bottom of the cord presents the perfect place for a child’s neck to become trapped.
- Knotted Cords: Some cords come with a knot at the bottom of them; however, this knot forms the end of a dangerous loop and presents a strangulation hazard.
- Tassel Cords: In tassel cords, multiple cords are joined together to create a single tassel. The bottom of this tassel is still a loop and can choke or strangle a child.
- A Cord Joiner: Some windows have multiple cords that are joined together by a joiner. With the blinds in the “up” position, a loop is present that creates a strangulation risk.
- Blinds Free Fall: When the blinds are all the way up, there is often a locking mechanism in place. A child can hit this lock and disengage that blinds, causing them to fall on the child. If the child's neck is stuck in the cords when the blinds fall, this could end up choking the child.
- Inner Cords: Some window blinds have an inner cord that could be hidden from view. When the inner cord is adjusted, the outer cords could start to rise. This presents a severe strangulation hazard.
Several serious impacts could result from cord entanglements. These include:
- Emotional Impact on Families: Parents shouldn't have to worry that their child could be injured or killed in their own home. When a child needs to go to the emergency room, there is a tremendous feeling of uncertainty and worry regarding the future. This stress can take a severe emotional toll.
- Financial Ramifications: Medical care is expensive. Even for families who have health insurance, there could be a costly deductible or a coinsurance provision. Even a visit to the emergency room could end up costing families thousands of dollars.
- Long-Term Complications: Depending on how long and how tightly the child was strangled, there could be long-term complications that result from this injury. The tight cord could restrict the blood flow to the brain. This could lead to neurological damage that is similar to that of a traumatic brain injury.
The impacts of window blind cord strangulation have not gone unnoticed. Various regulatory agencies have forced companies to take a closer look at their product. There have been many recalls in the recent past, highlighting the severe dangers that these cords present.
Watch the following video for more on why window blind cords continue to be a serious threat to children.Window Blind Recalls: Demonstrating the Dangers
Window blind cord injuries are a serious tragedy and leave many families with scars that will never heal. Innocent children have suffered tremendously at the hands of these simple devices, and many lives are tragically cut short. Furthermore, these injuries are entirely preventable. Despite the advent of new technology and the numerous recalls of window blinds, these dangers continue to exist in the homes of many families. Some of these recalls include:
- Hanover Direct Domestications: Roller blinds that were manufactured by Hanover were recalled in 2010. These blinds lacked a tension device that kept the blinds in place. After being on the market for 14 years and injuring numerous children, these blinds were finally recalled.
- Blind Xpress: These blinds were recalled in 2012. Unfortunately, these blinds were on the market for more than two decades and were finally recalled because the inner cords did not have a stop device. This caused numerous injuries before they were eventually recalled.
These recalls are only two of the dozens of recalls that have taken place over the past few years. These blinds are present in numerous major retailers, including IKEA, Lowes, and Home Depot.Safety Precautions: Preventing Window Blind Cord Injuries
When children are exposed to the dangerous pull cords that come with most windows, strangulation can happen in minutes. Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to reduce the risk of serious injury and death. To protect their children from these hazards, there are a few tips that parents should keep in mind. These include:
- If possible, retrofit older window blinds with new, cordless technology. Unfortunately, this technology could be hard to find and expensive; however, this could eliminate the strangulation risk posed by window blind cords.
- Make sure that toys, furniture, cribs, and beds are moved away from windows to keep these cords out of reach.
- If there is a tassel attached to the pull cords, try to keep the tassel as short as possible so that it is high off of the ground.
- Anchor the continuous loop cords to the floor or the wall to prevent strangulation.
- All cord stops should be installed properly to prevent the “rise” that could lead to strangulation.
- If there are hidden inner cords, try to adjust the limit to keep these cords away from the reach of children.
- Take steps to eliminate dangling cords that could wrap up a child’s neck.
These safety tips could prevent a child from having to visit the emergency department. For parents whose children have been harmed by these dangerous cords, there are measures available to hold responsible parties accountable.Families Can Hold the Manufacturers of Blind Cords Accountable
With so many measures in place, the manufacturers of these cords should have replaced this technology with a safer alternative. Unfortunately, they have not, and it once again falls on families to force action. Families could be entitled to a significant financial settlement from the manufacturers of window blinds, and these funds could be used to cover:
- Medical Expenses: Visits to the emergency department can be expensive. If the child needs to spend the night in the hospital, visit the intensive care unit, or require surgery, these bills could make it hard for families to make ends meet.
- Lost Wages: If a child faces a long recovery process after this severe injury, some parents might not be able to return to work. The lost income during this time might make it hard for families to put food on the table or pay their rent or mortgage.
- Funeral Expenses: No parent should ever have to bury his or her child. Unfortunately, this could happen following a window blind cord entanglement. Funerals are expensive and can be difficult to pay for when they occur unexpectedly.
- Pain and Suffering: In a lawsuit, damages could also be awarded for pain and suffering. Parents and their children could suffer tremendous physical, emotional, and mental stress following a cord entanglement.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Products Liability Lawyer. The cords that come attached to window blinds are capable of causing severe injury or even death, particularly to young children. If someone you love has been injured by the window blinds, please reach out to me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 to receive free, friendly legal guidance and advice.
I'm a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum & of the Top One Percent, which is a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 2.24.21]