Two federal rules are being proposed to address unsafe cords in both stock and custom window coverings. Current standards are voluntary.
Consumers who rent and have no buying choice are especially at risk for exposure to unsafe window coverings, said the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“A mandatory rule addressing all window coverings is necessary,” said Linda Kaiser, founder of Parents for Window Blind Safety.
Two children strangled on hazardous cords in October, Kaiser said.
On average, about nine children age 5 and younger die every year from strangulation in window blinds, shades, draperies, and other window coverings with cords.
“Strangulation incidents can happen quickly while parents can be in the same room,” she said. “Due to the vagus nerve being compressed during these incidents, the impact of injury is severe and the chance of survival after entanglement is less than one minute.”
In 2014, the Consumer Federation of America petitioned the CPSC because the voluntary standard failed to adequately address the hazard posed by window covering cords, said Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel for the organization.
In the last seven years, that failure has only become starker, and the need for a mandatory standard has become even more necessary, Weintraub said.
The proposed mandatory standards are critical to effectively addressing these hazards, she said.
Warning labels, parental supervision, and safety devices are inadequate in addressing the risk of injuries associated with custom window coverings with cords, the CPSC said in the proposed rules.
“The strangulation hazard posed by window cords is entirely fixable with responsible designs that eliminate dangerous and accessible cords,” said Carol Pollack-Nelson, a psychologist specializing in consumer product safety.
The CPSC reviewed websites that sold custom window coverings. It found that all of the websites failed to meet the required labeling and safety messaging required by the current voluntary standard for custom window coverings.
The CPSC also found that labeling and cord length limitations on custom products failed to meet the 2018 safety standard.