A home represents a safe haven for children, a place that provides an element of safety and protection from potential danger. But without some precautions and careful safety measures, even your home can present some unforgiving and somewhat unexpected dangers. One of these dangers is window coverings, especially corded window blinds.
Corded blinds pose an imminent health risk to children. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), every month a child between the age of 7 months and 10 years dies from strangulation due to a window covering cord, and another child will suffer near strangulation. It’s too easy for a child to unknowingly wrap a blind cord around their neck or get tangled up in cords that aren’t necessarily visible but are accessible, and cause their own untimely death. It’s important to note that these silent deaths can occur extremely fast, and even when the parent is present in the room.
The issue goes way beyond leaving your child unattended momentarily or even from buying cheap blinds. In the mid-1990, the window coverings manufacturing industry went through major safety investigations, and as a result of this, the products were redesigned with added child safety features. Some of the window coverings were given safer cord systems and some went totally cord free. However, even with these extra safety measures put in place, the statistics are still harrowing. This calls for action on our parts, as the parents.
Understandably, parents all across the globe are willing to do anything and everything in their power to keep their child from harm. If it isn’t financially plausible for you to buy new cordless blinds, there is still plenty you can do to prevent the so-called silent killer from striking once more.
Cut the cord
Long dangling cords are asking for trouble. Cut the cord as short as you can justify, keep it long enough for you to operate the blinds comfortably but short enough that it is out of reach for the little ones. Tucking the excess cord away on a nearby shelf or window sill is absolutely not a safe enough option. Children get their hands into anything, and it is still possible for them to put themselves in danger if the window covering cord is simply just tucked away out of sight.
There is an array of safety devices that you can get your hands on, online or in the store. One of the best examples is the cord cleat. The cord cleat allows you wrap the excess blind cord up so it is no longer easily accessible. They anchor adjacent to the window and are very easy to use. And what’s more, you can order them for free online.
Move nearby Furniture
Children have a tendency to explore and climb on everything, and as a parent, you will definitely know this to be true. Even if you have installed Cord Cleats, it’s still not worth the risk. Any furniture that is close enough to a window sill to be used as a stepping stone for a child needs to be moved. This includes settees, cribs, and tables, anything that can be utilized as a climbing frame. Moving the furniture away from windows will greatly reduce the risk of serious or even fatal danger. Another trick would be to remove any light objects (anything a baby or toddler could easier move on their own) that could be stacked up to create a ladder or stepping stones for a child. Again, children are well-known for their creative thinking but this is not safe. If you are the room with them, you can simply keep your eye on the situation but if you need to leave the room, then take the easily transportable things with you.
If your child is still quite young and is still in the crawling-only-just-walking stage, then a fire guard place in front of the window could be a temporary safety measure. It will prevent them from getting close enough to the cords to fiddle with them and therefore, making it a lot safer. Also, typically radiators are placed under windows which when turned on can pose a risk of their own, and this solution can ward against that too. Of course, this will only work temporarily and it won’t work for older children, but it can give you a bit of time to save up for new cordless blinds or to come up with a more permanent solution.
Tell them and make sure they know the dangers
With younger children, this can be a little trickier, but it is still possible. If you spot your little one trying to get hold of the blind cord or messing around with it then slightly raise your voice. Not too much, but enough to make them stop. Stay consistent with this and hopefully, they will learn that blind cords are not to be played with. Seeing as window covering related injuries and fatalities can affect children up to the age of 10 if you have a child of this age or a little younger simply tell them how dangerous blind cords can be. Don’t be too graphic with them but do explain to them that blind cords can be terribly dangerous and must not be messed around with or played with. Again, stay consistent with this.
Don’t assume anything
Again, it’s important to remember that this silent killer can happen to older children too so don’t automatically assume that your child has outgrown the risk factors surrounding blind cords. It is vital that you keep your vigilance about you.
Install new blinds one at a time
Cordless blinds are definitely the future, they reduce the risk of strangulation massively but they come with a price and it can definitely be appreciated that it is not financially possible for some. Until legislation states that cordless blinds are the only blinds permitted, it is still okay for you to have corded blinds as long you take precautions, especially if you have children. However, you could install new cordless blinds gradually, one room at a time. Focus on the room your child frequents the most often, so maybe their bedroom or the living area. Then slowly you can equip your whole house with the new blinds but can be reassured that the most prominent danger has been noticeably reduced. And because cordless blinds are becoming more popular, they coordinate safety and style so you don’t have to worry about them looking out of place.
Supervise your child
Statistics show that blind cord related fatalities can occur when the parent is in the room supervising. However, these instances typically happened when the parent turned their back momentarily to answer the phone or tidy away some toys. With that in mind, make sure that when you are supervising your child play or watching tally, that you stay on the ball. Anything else that you need to do will have to wait, your child’s safety is more important than doing the dishes.
While window covering cords are a primary child safety concern and pose a greater risk, other window coverings such as floor-length draperies need to be considered too, as they can pose a safety threat themselves. For these, a suggestion could be tying them up for a stylish effect, keeping the draperies and of course, your little one safe.
In 1996, it also came to light that vinyl blinds, also known Venetian blinds, contained lead. The blinds are naturally exposed to sunlight and heat, and over time this caused the vinyl to deteriorate and leave lead dust on the surface of the blinds. The lead was used in the plastic of the blind as a stabilizer and it’s the plastic that would deteriorate over time. Now as you know, children have a tendency to put anything and everything in their mouths, including their hands. If the child has been playing around with the blinds or even just happens to brush their hand against it and then puts their hand in their mouth, they put themselves at a huge risk of giving themselves lead poisoning which as you can guess is deadly. Lead is a highly toxic metal and a very deadly poison. Lead poison occurs when there is a build-up of lead in the body, and it can cause developmental delays and severe neurological problems, and in rare cases, it can have fatal effects. Generally, the risk of lead poisoning is greater in children under the age of 6, any older than that and the risk greatly decreases.
If you have blinds that predate 1996, then you should really considerate throwing them out. Lead poisoning doesn’t display symptoms quickly; it needs to build up over time so the sooner you throw your vinyl blinds out, the better. Since this issue was brought to light, companies that supplied blinds will now state that they are ‘Lead-Free’ or ‘Non-Leaded Formula’, so you are able to make educated choices for your child’s safety.
A home provides safety and security to any child. But this haven has its share of dangers, especially for children, and one of them is window coverings. However, with a little effort and the right precautionary measures, you can prevent any mishaps. Make a through study of all danger spots and if necessary get down on your hands and knees to look at your fixtures from a child’s perspective, especially the window coverings.
With regards to window covering you can take the following precautionary measures to make them as child-safe as possible. If you have Vertical Blinds installed on windows then opt to have wand controls instead of the cord types. Dangling cords are disasters waiting to happen, especially if you have kids. Some blinds have break through tassels that provide more safety than regular blinds. Check whether your manufacturer has something that is similar to those for added safety. If you have existing blinds that has long cords try to cut them short, just enough to comfortably operate the blinds. This will take care of the unnecessary dangling length of cord. If you are about to install new blinds, then you can consider to install blinds or shades that have motorized controls.
Today, you have countless varieties of blinds and shades that come in different styles and designs. You can opt for the cordless models that are most favored these days. These cordless blinds are child safe and it is also equipped with easy to operate controls. All you have to do is lift the shades up. All the above tips and options are put forward to make your window coverings as safe as possible for your children. However, the best safety measure that can protect your child is to keep them under adult supervision.
- Windows covering safety alert Retrieved from- http://www.ellsworthafbhomes.com/media/1003412/cpsc_safety_alert__window_coverings_.pdf
- Windows coverings Safety kits for kids Retrieved from- http://simplysmartliving.com/window-safety-kid-safe-window-coverings/
- Danger in old windows coverings Retrieved from – http://www.powerfullsystems.com/blogs-events/articles/the-hidden-dangers-in-your-old-blinds-drapes-and-window-coverings/
- Safety for children at home Retrieved from- https://www.cpsc.gov/content/cpsc-finds-lead-poisoning-hazard-for-young-children-in-imported-vinyl-miniblinds