Blinds: Affordable way to keep homes private, but can strangle child in seconds

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child dies each month from window cord strangulation.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Many parents go to great lengths to make sure their homes are safe when they have children. But there are still hidden dangers.

Blinds, for instance, can be found in most homes. They’re affordable and offer you privacy inside your home, but they can be deadly to a child. The cords can potentially strangle a child in a matter of seconds.

“You just assume they are not going to kill your child,” said Patty Miller, whose son, Jonathan, died three years ago. “I went to check on them and I found my youngest hanging from the pull cord of the mini blinds in the bedroom.”

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child dies each month from window cord strangulation. Many others are injured. Children can easily get caught up in the strings, causing injury or death, which is why there is a push to go cordless.

Corri Miller-Hobbs with Safe Kids Virginia says the number of cord blind injuries and deaths here in Central Virginia is unknown because of lack of reporting, but she says this is a devastating accident that can be prevented.

“If you have blinds that are tied together they need to tie apart,” Miller-Hobbs explained as she showed 8News Investigative Reporter Darrielle Snipes a set of cordless blinds. “If they are loose and separated you need to make sure they are tied up.”

Retailers like Target have stopped selling blinds with cords. IKEA announced last month they will also stop selling them at the beginning of 2016. CPSC chairman Elliott Kayes says other big name retailers such as WalMart, Lowes and Home Depot agreed to stop selling them by 2018, but Kayes says it needs to happen sooner.

“It’s not good enough for me, and not good enough for the parents of the children who will die in the interim,” Kayes said.

So, what should you do if you have these types of blinds?

  • Tie the strings up, but that isn’t full proof as they can sometimes fall.
  • Try and keep furniture away from the window so you’re child won’t be tempted to climb near the window.

Going to a store and buying blinds can still be confusing, though. Cord and cordless blinds can look the same and both have warning labels. And sometimes the sales associates aren’t knowledgeable. ABC’s Brian Ross will have more on Good Morning America and on Nightline, including how the CPSC is leaning on manufacturers to stop making cord blinds.

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