HOW TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ENTANGLEMENT.
As the mother of twin toddlers, I often get the shivers just thinking of all the possible ways that they could be hurt in the blink of an eye, uncontrollable moments I could be caught completely flat-footed in! I still remember an incidence from when one of the l’il critters was 5 months old – I had her lying stomach down on the dining table in front where I was seated (she’d just started creeping a bit), when I leaned down to look for the pacifier that she’d spat out – she’d crept to the edge of the table in the blink of an eye (possibly imitating me) and had already tumbled to the floor by the time I’d raised my head! As luck would have it, she’d somehow fallen on her stomach, and not on her brain box or elbow, or any other part that could have broken on impact! Thank God for baby fat padding the abdomen, she sustained no injury whatsoever, apart from her pride! And, of course, the hurtful thumping of the impact! I mean, disasters happen under our watchful eyes, like it or not!
There are, of course, all sorts of things one can do to prevent the nitty gritty of infant injury – capping off corners on furniture with rounded edges, installing child safety doors to kitchens and bathrooms, capping off plug points, rubber beading for doors and windows, gadgets placed at levels that can’t be reached, locked cabinets, and indeed, hold down brackets for blinds and shades, along with cord cleats to secure dangling cords!
I heard about a 2-year-old boy, a toddler who died after being entangled in window cords last March, in Maryland, and a month before that, a 6-year-old girl, Suitland. Horrifying! Children are curious, and often look out a window to investigate, or try to hide behind window coverings – with fatal results, at times. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), who contends that window blinds are one of the top hidden hazards in a home, four children died due to window cord strangulation nationwide(between February and March), in a matter of 22 days!
A study conducted by the CPSC over 10 years has revealed that at least one infant dies every month as a result of window cord strangulation, in which 60% of the incidents occurred due to cords from horizontal window shades, and 40% due to the cord loop systems employed by draperies and vertical blinds.
How do you prevent window blind cord entanglement in children?
Common sense dictates that one must ensure that window coverings used are up-to-date, and not part of a product recall list. Please be advised that all window covering products sold before the year 2000 have cords that can be pulled out by children. It should be a priority that these blinds are replaced with their cordless counterparts though it might be beyond a family’s budget considerations. But what value can you place on life? CPSC suggests a few common sense steps to take to ensure protection for children under the age of 5:
1. It is recommended that all furniture, cribs, and beds are not placed near windows – this prevents children from reaching for cords dangling from windows and blinds that can become entangled around their necks.
2. Check all blinds and shades to identify ones with accessible cords; check all sides of the blinds to make sure that there are no reachable cords.
3. Keep all window pull cords and inner lift cords out of children’s reach. If the window has tasseled pull cords, make sure they are shortened and inaccessible to children.
4.Continuous loop cords should be permanently anchored to the ground or wall. Blinds with inner lift cords should be properly installed, and inner lift cords should be inspected to make sure there is minimal movement.
5.When using horizontal sheer shades or blinds make sure to secure the cord into position when they are lowered.
To retrofit existing blinds:
For those who find it economically nonviable to change their window coverings, blind manufacturers do offer free retrofit kits due to recalls and changes in blind safety standards, and CPSC says:
1. Remove all looped cords: If any blinds or shades have looped pull cords eliminate the loop by cutting it and installing tassels on each end.
2. Utilize tie-down devices: These devices are designed to remove excess slack from blind and curtain cords. Simply insert the cord into the device and securely fasten it the floor or the ground.
3. Use cord stops: Cord stops should be installed on all horizontal blinds manufactured before 2001. They secure the blinds in place and keep a child from pulling the cord down through the slats.
And a few safety tips, going by blind/shade types:
1. Snip the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a separate tassel at the end of each cord, or
2. Cut the cord above the tassel, remove the equalizer buckle, and add a breakaway tassel that will come apart if a child becomes entangled in the loop.
Pleated or Cellular Shades.
1. Leave the cord stop near the head rail in place. Cut the cord above the tassel and add a separate tassel at the end of each cord. Warning: When shades are raised, a loop will appear above the cord stop. Keep cord out of the reach of children.
Vertical Blinds, Continuous Loop Systems, and Drapery Cords.
1.Install a cord tie-down device. Permanently attach and use the tie down to floor, wall, or window jamb.
2. Keep all window covering cords out of the reach of children. Unless the cords can be completely removed from a child’s reach, including when a child climbs on furniture, CPSC recommends against knotting or tying the cords together which creates a new loop for a child to become entangled.
3. Replacement safety tassels are available free of charge at window covering retailers. Consumers can call (800) 506-4636 to find the location of the nearest store or to order free tassels.
4. CPSC also recommends that when you install window coverings, adjust the cords to their shortest length possible. When you order new custom window coverings, specify that you want a short cord.
I would strongly recommend automated upgrades for those who have manual lift/control options, for first-time buyers, and for those thinking of a change in window treatments. They’re THE safest option available, and combined with the latest tax benefits offered to those using motorized shades, they’re unbeatable. Not least that they are available at ridiculously low rates! For me, my child’s safety is paramount, and since window coverings themselves are sold at such competitive rates, motorization is a foregone conclusion!
And last of all, Zebrablinds only supply custom blinds, shades, shutters, and draperies from the most reputed of brands, like Graber, Comfortex, Norman and Crown etc, who are wholly committed to CPSC norms and customer satisfaction.