When baby-proofing the home, it’s standard to lock cabinets with chemical products and install gates by staircases. But a new report published in the journal Pediatrics this week highlights a household danger that’s often overlooked: According to the study, nearly 17,000 children have been injured by window blinds since 1990.
“Even the best parent in the world cannot watch their child every second of every day,” says , senior author of this study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “A curious child can quickly get entangled in a window blind cord. This can lead to strangulation within minutes, and the parent may not hear a thing because the child often can’t make a sound while this is happening.”
Due to their findings, the study’s authors are calling for stricter regulations on window blinds. Currently, there are just voluntary safe standards for the manufacturers—but the authors say the study demonstrates the importance of requiring blinds that have unexposed or inaccessible cords.
“We have known about this problem since the 1940s. The risk reduction approaches offered by the current voluntary safety standards are not enough,” says Smith. “It is time to eliminate the hazard. Safe, affordable cordless blinds and shades are widely available. A mandatory federal safety standard should be adopted prohibiting the sale of products with accessible cords.”
For the study, the authors examined nearly 17,000 injury reports related to window blinds for children younger than 6 years old. In approximately half of the cases, the young kids were “struck by” the blinds. But 12% of the cases involved entanglement, which was the most common window blind-related cause of hospitalization. Of the incidents between 1990 and 2015, 271 children died as a result of their injuries.
According to the study, the majority of cases occurred in the home while the children were in the care of their parents, but had been left alone for less than 10 minutes to watch television or go to sleep. The researchers say that underlines the importance of safety precautions that all families should take.
To prevent injuries related to window blinds, they suggest:
- Replacing existing blinds with ones that are cordless or have inaccessible cords.
- Swapping blinds for drapes.
- Moving furniture away from windows so children cannot climb into the reach of blinds.
- Takes these steps in every room of the house and at every house where the child is in care.
Thankfully, the Window Covering Manufacturers Association seems to be taking steps that will help all families: CNN reports the association proposed requiring that stock blinds are cordless or have retractable cords, which will likely go into effect by the end of 2018. Until then, they suggest buyers look for blinds with the “Best for Kids” certification.