Corded Window Coverings and Children
The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
CORDED WINDOW COVERINGS AND CHILDERN:
Safety Tips to Keep Small Children Safe around Your Home
Michigan children have been hurt, and some have been killed, by seemingly harmless décor that can be found in most Michigan homes – window blinds and other window coverings. In most cases, window coverings are harmless. However, window covering cords pose a danger to small children, who may strangle themselves with the cords in an instant. In light of this danger, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Council announced one of the largest recalls in history, including 50 million roll-up blinds and roman shades. For detailed information on this and other recalls, see the "Consumer Tip Corner" at the Attorney General's homepage, www.michigan.gov/ag.
Even if your window coverings have not been the subject of a recall, there are steps that all parents and caregivers should follow to ensure their window coverings do not pose a safety risk for small children. This consumer alert also includes additional sources that Michigan parents and caregivers can refer to for tips on how they may further childproof their homes, or where they can go to report a dangerous product.
TIPS FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS: KEEP WINDOW COVERING CORDS AWAY FROM SMALL CHILDREN
The Window Covering Council, as well as the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), recommends the following tips for parents trying to ensure their window coverings are safe for their children:
- Move all cribs, beds, furniture, and toys away from windows: One of the easiest ways to protect babies and toddlers from window covering cords is to move all furniture, including cribs and beds, away from any windows with coverings that are not cordless. If possible, consider moving all furniture to an opposite wall, and ensure there is nothing directly under or near the window that a curious child can climb on to access the window or window covering.
- Consider replacing all window blinds, corded shades, and draperies purchased before 2001: Generally, window coverings manufactured after 2001 include additional safety features that help minimize the risk of child strangulation. Cordless window blinds and other cordless window coverings are also available. You may wish to replace older window coverings with newer coverings. Regardless of the age of your window coverings, you should still ensure that cribs, beds, and other furniture are kept far away from corded window coverings.
- Regardless of the age of your window coverings, do not leave cords hanging!: If your window coverings have cords, a simple tip is to cut the cords short when the blinds are fully down or the coverings are fully closed. This will help to ensure that only older children and adults can reach the cords. Also, tie window cords out of reach of small children. One way to tie window cords high and out of reach of small children is to install a cleat, or place two nails or screws in the wall to wrap the cord around them. Make sure all nails or screws are secure. Or, you can simply use a paper or binder clip, a clothes pin, or a big twist tie to wrap around the cord at a height that will ensure no children can access the cord.
Child safety advocates additionally caution:
- Window covering with cord joiners can pose a hazard to children: The looped cords in older window coverings have been replaced by a tasseled cord. The tassel is usually a small round ball or sphere with holes for more than one cord at the top of the tassel and a single cord at the bottom of the tassel. The danger here is that multiple cords above the cord joiner / tassel form a loop that may pose a choking hazard.
- Even window coverings with a single cord can pose a hazard to children: Some window coverings include single cords with a tassel at the end of each cord or just a single cord with one tassel. Single cords with separate tassels can become tangled or knotted forming a dangerous loop. Additionally, even a single cord can become wrapped around a child's neck. As a result, even if your window covering includes only a single cord, parents and caregivers still need to be vigilant.
Some child safety advocates argue that only cordless window coverings should be used if there are small children in the home, but if this is not a feasible solution for you, please ensure you do not leave window covering cords hanging within a child's reach and that a child may not crawl on something to reach the cord!
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND REPORTING DANGEROUS PRODUCTS
For more information on the recall of roman shades and roll-up blinds, and for additional tips on how to select window coverings that are safer for children or on how to modify any window coverings in your home that have dangling cords, please visit the Window Coverings Safety Council's website, at http://www.windowcoverings.org. The Window Covering Safety Counsel can also be reached via their toll-free number at 1-800-506-4636.
And for additional tips on steps you can take to help "childproof" your home, or to report a dangerous consumer product, please visit the CPSC's website, at http://www.cpsc.gov.
Finally, if you would like information on product recalls, please visit http://www.recalls.gov.
IF YOU HAVE A GENERAL CONSUMER PROBLEM, FILE A COMPLAINT:
For general consumer questions or complaints, you may reach the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at:
Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Toll free: 877-765-8388
www.michigan.gov/ag (online complaint form)