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A big applaud to CPSC for their letter on safety to the Department of Defense warning military housing partners of the dangers of corded window coverings.
CPSC has record of at least 10 or more deaths and injuries over the past few decades on military housing facilities and rented homes. PFWBS wrote letters along with families who had lost their children asking for something to be done on military bases. Articles were written about our concern with military housing authorities unsafe environments for our soldiers. http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2010/12/safety-crusader-linda-kaiser-fights-to-prevent-window-blind-strangulation.html
Typically soldiers who live on post are not allowed to modify their blinds or they face fines. They must keep a uniform appearance in housing which means they can’t remove their hazardous blinds. See this link below as to how blinds are to be kept and cleaned for inspections.
Brandyn lost his life Sept 11 2009.
Connor lost his life in 2005 on an AirForce Base.
Ashley will never walk, talk or play like she used to.
We at Parents for Window Blind Safety would like to see the Department of Defense NOT ONLY “WARN” parents of the dangers but REMOVE the dangerous window coverings from base housing and rental homes. No parent can keep an eye on their children every hour of every day. We sleep, we cook, we use the restroom, we bathe. Please help us keep our soldiers homes safe by sharing this post and contacting your local military post asking for dangerous window coverings to be removed.
15 Nov / 10 Years of Advocacy
Ten Years ago Parents for Window Blind Safety was established in November 2002 by my husband and I, after losing our precious daughter, Cheyenne Rose to child strangulation.
You might wonder, why did we do this? What is our purpose? This was a preventable death. If my husband and I would have been educated about the inner cord dangers of window covering products it would have never happened. I would never have had to read on my daughter’s death certificate that she would never be married. If I would have known how dangerous cords on window covering products could be and how many children had died or were going to die I never would have had them in my home. In 2002 inner cord dangers was almost unheard of because the recall about the hazard was not publicized very well.
Click to read the history of window covering recalls.
No one I knew understood exactly how my daughter accessed the cords. I had to have a dear friend of mine explain to ME how she got a hold of a cord when I had tied up the draw cords out of her reach.
I will never forget how unfair I felt it was that I had no idea about this hidden danger. If you don’t know something is dangerous, how do you protect your children? Even today, when I talk to well-educated people they tell me they had no idea that the cord which runs up and down horizontal blinds could be pulled out by a 12 month old child and kill her. We knew early on we had to centralize all the window covering safety information we were receiving and make it available to the public so that the message would be clear on safety.
Sadly PFWBS support groups grew large very quickly. The year my daughter died we had tracked 21 strangulations in the USA in 2002 alone. As the investigation reports came in we learned different scenarios of how children accessed the cords, what type of safety tips parents followed, what type of products the child strangled on and whether or not the product was compliant with the current safety standard.
Click below to read how detailed IDI reports are.
It became clear the safety messages for window coverings varied from manufacture to manufacture, from the government and from child advocacy groups. None of these groups had the same message and they still don’t! Some were telling consumers to tie cords together, use cleats, use safety kits, go cordless etc. As the years went by, we realized that the industry and the government were not disclosing to the public that the “safety kits” they recommended were also failing. Tie down devices, tassels, inner cord stoppers, wind up products etc. have all been involved in accidental strangulation and consumers have no idea.
In 10 years PFWBS has tracked two hundred and four strangulation accidents in the United States.
Few children have lived through the accident, and a handful are so severely injured they will never walk, talk or play again. This is such a preventable accident. How do we get such preventable accidents to stop? When looking at all of the data it’s obvious that the safety message must be the same from the industry, from the government, and from the advocacy groups. Until the message is universal, the public will continue to be confused on what products are safe and the death rate will remain the same. It is our goal to press the US CPSC and the window covering industry to stop promoting safety kits and products that can strangle children. The message to the public should be the factual. Any window-covering product with a cord CAN kill or injure a child.
The universal message should be, Cords Kill Kids…. Always Use Cordless Products! Help us by passing on the message. Like our Facebook page, follow us on twitter, YouTube, and our blog. Help us prevent child strangulation.
The most recent story in the news today is about a little girl named Isabella.
This month is window covering safety month. PFWBS recommends cordless or cord-free window coverings in homes with children 8 years and younger. According to CPSC data children 8 years and younger have died or been injured on ANSI compliant window coverings that include safety devices such as “safety tassels”, “Break away tassels”, “cord joiners”, cords tied up in cleats, and faulty tie down devices. Children have accessed cords tied up high as far as 6 feet off the floor well beyond their reach by using other objects in the home.
Many parents have lost their children after following inaccurate safety tips on products that were considered safe by the industry. PFWBS recommends that all parents remove products in their homes that have operational cords. Changing one corded window covering a month would help parents on a budget create a safer environment for their children. Below is a list of budget friendly cordless or cord-free alternatives on the market today.
Blackout Redishades mixed with drapes can create the perfect dark room for any family on a budget.
Panels and Drapes are perfect for any budget!
Todays Roller Shades with Vinyl or Fabric roll up easier with new technology.
There are tons of DIY window covering tutorials online some of which are No Sew!
Don’t let the price of custom window coverings make you feel that you can’t afford safe alternatives for your home. PFWBS is happy to answer any questions on how to make your home safer. Send us an email. www.info (AT)pfwbs.org.
19 Jul / Product Safety Testing
We want to introduce to you one of our product safety testing engineers, John Williamson. John has been with PFWBS for about 6 years now helping with testing in Australia and also in the United States.
John has found a tie down device in Australia that does not meet the Australian safety standards. Keep reading for his findings and also click the YouTube video below to watch him test the product and see why it doesn’t pass the test.
UPDATE ON PFWBS AUSTRALIA
2012 has been a big year for PFWBS in Australia. In March we took out the Western Australian governments Department of Commerce Kidsafe award. This was followed a month later by relocating from Karratha in the north west of West Australia to Clarkson, a northern suburb of Perth, the capital city of the state.
After arriving in Perth I was alarmed to see just how bad the corded window covering issue was in the city.
After visiting a hardware store which was just one of a national chain of super stores, I found that a product identical to the one that was involved in the death of my granddaughter Meesha in 2006 was on sale. This was in a bin marked as a safety device for children.
After seeing this I asked to speak to the centre manager. On raising the issue with her and demonstrating the problem she immediately withdrew all of that stock from sale. She then agreed to raise this with her companies head office in Melbourne. A few days later I was contacted and advised that their product safety person was looking seriously into the matter. The following Friday I was again contacted and told that the companies supplier had been spoken to and they maintained that the product met with the mandatory standards introduced into Australia in July 2011, but that the stores supply would remain off the shelves pending further investigation. Knowing that I had not only tested a number of these devices and not one met the regulated standard, I had videotaped the testing. As such I dropped a copy of that testing onto a thumb drive and took it to the store. Unfortunately as it was late on the Friday afternoon the manager had left for the week end, however I was permitted to leave it on her desk. The following Wednesday the manager again contacted me and told me that on receipt of the copy of the testing, the company had immediately ordered withdrawal from sale of this product nationally. They also again contacted their supplier who admitted that they had only ever tested one device, but maintained that that one passed the test. The supplier was advised to conduct proper testing and to furnish their results to the company. Until they can prove that their product can meet the standard it will remain off the shelves. Following all of my testing I am confident that it will not pass and this will be followed by a national recall in the coming months.
I can say that I am impressed how serious the company, Bunnings took very quick action on this matter. I have been trying to get this product banned through regulatory bodies since 2006. Although each individual spoken to agreed there was a problem, as a body nothing was done.
The item in question I believe is supplied around the world. It is intended to safely restrain looped cords and beaded chains and stop these being a danger to children. It is a small D shaped item that is made up of three parts. A base plate that has 4 screw holes to affix it to the wall, a small cord holding device which slides down a series of teeth intended to tension the cord and a top cover which just clips over the top. The problem with this device is that little fingers can easily remove the top cover to expose the cord and it does not take much effort from a child to dislodge the centre cord tensioning device. This raises two serious issues, once dislodged, the dangerous looped cord is again presented and the dislodged part presents a choking hazard to small children.
From experience it is often sold in the same bin a an almost identical device that is far safer and the cord holding device is moulded into the base plate, as such it cannot be dislodged, further to this, the top plate has either one or two screw holes to ensure that the cover cannot be removed by little fingers. The box / bin this is sold in bears a picture of the safer device which has the screw holes, as such this also could present issues of false and or misleading advertising.
I will advise of the outcome when I receive the word.
12 Jun / 10 Years ago today….
10 years ago today I put my twins to bed and started working on the dishes and turning in for the night. My oldest daughter and my husband always made it an event to check on the twins on our way to bed. So I went in first and saw my daughter in the corner of her crib sitting. I ran to her and saw that a cord was around her neck. My entire life fell apart that day. The EMT came, police came took my baby away and made me stay in my home until they felt they had questioned me enough. They allowed me then to go to the hospital but then pulled my husband and I apart after we learned that my daughter had died and interrogated us. I was allowed to hold my baby for the last time 10 years ago Tuesday. I remember that day just like the day we remember when we first laid eyes on our babies. She was perfect. Even with the death laid upon her, she was perfect. I didn’t want to let go of her. I didn’t want some stranger who never knew her to take her from me but I had to let her go. So…I did.
I went home in a police car and they asked me to go over what had happened because I guess they could not figure out what really happened either. I didn’t understand how a cord got in her crib. It was not until the next week when a friend of mine showed me that even though I had placed the pull cords of my window blind on TOP of the valance, my daughter was able to grab the cord that ran in between the slats and create a loop. I had no idea. I thought that her crib being three feet away from the pull cords was safe enough. Having two cribs in a small room leaves no option to move the crib away from the window. I checked all my doctor check up papers, nothing on window covering safety. How did I fail to protect my daughter? I felt utterly alone. I was alone really. People don’t know what to say to some who have lost their child is such a tragic way.
A few weeks went by and I learned of another mother who lost her child the exact same way two weeks before my baby died. Well, I thought i was the only one! Was I ever wrong. Not to long after I knew a handful of parents who had lost their child the same way my daughter died. I received a phone call from a retired NY firefighter that had been working on a way to make kids safer a few months later. He told me that my daughter was not the first and would not be the last. In fact, he informed me that children strangle every TWO weeks on cords from window coverings. One child dies per month and the other is either minor injury or severe injury where the child can no longer walk, talk, play, or take care of them selves. I could not live with myself knowing what I knew another day unless I did something. How could I know something so preventable and do NOTHING??? Parents for Window Blind Safety was founded in November 2002, six months after my daughter died.
I learned after reading over 300 In Depth Investigation reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that there were 8 ways children were dying on a typical window blind, roman shade, cellular shade, etc. It didn’t matter what mom was doing at the time. Reports of mom putting a child to bed, cooking dinner, aiding another sick child, vacuuming, four days after giving birth on the couch sleeping, taking a nap with their child all of these things are what mom’s were doing when their children were dying. Lower class, upper class, middle class, it didn’t matter what the mother did or how educated she was. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, typical housewives all lost their children because they had no idea how hazardous these window coverings with cords could be. They were told to use “safety kits or safety tassels.” They were told to “tie their cords out of reach, as I did myself.” They were told that tie down devices were safe but didn’t realize that they could break or become weak in the wall after a year of use. Many of these parents followed child proofing safety guidelines given on the product instructions, found on a website, in a doctors office or read a magazine article. The problem remains today, misinformation, inaccuracy in details of child proofing. Confident large manufactures promising that their window coverings are “safer” because they are newer.
Is this a vicious vendetta against the makers of window coverings? No. In fact we are supporting many manufactures who have decided to take the safety plunge and develop products that are truly child safe! PFWBS is spreading truth about how to keep children safe. This is about saving the lives of future children whose parents are misguided and uninformed. Are corded window coverings SAFE? No they are not, especially if you have one of those rambunctious kids who love to climb on things. They are not safe because we don’t know what our children are capable of. We don’t know until it is too late.
Maybe you are wondering why after 10 years we are still pressing on. Maybe I have not gotten “over” my daughters death. Maybe I am the type that needs to cling to the grief card so I can win as much sympathy from the public or my friends that I can. Maybe I just can’t live with the guilt. None of these are true. The truth is God has given me the healing and the peace I need to make it through this life without my Cheyenne Rose. God has given me the grace I need to talk to other parents who have recently lost their children so that they know they are not alone and they too can make it through life without their child. God has given me the strength I need to keep pressing on so that I can give my surviving children the best part of me that I can.
Why then am I writing this? This is for those who either have heard about the dangers of window cords but don’t believe it would happen to them and to those who have no idea how dangerous cords can be to children in the home. I am asking, as a mother, an advocate, and a friend please, replace your window coverings in your home with panels, curtains, roller shade, cordless window covering such as a blind, roman shade, etc. Start with your child’s bedroom and work outward from there. I am asking that you forward our website information on to your family, friends, loved ones.
This November PFWBS wants to see 10,000 likes on its Facebook page to represent those who have been properly educated on the facts of window covering safety. Please, go to our Facebook page and support us.
Mother of Cheyenne Rose
Founder of Parents for Window Blind Safety
The Real Myths and Facts about Window Covering Safety
Myth: A standard cannot be developed to eliminate the strangulation risk posed by window coverings.
Fact: It is entirely possible for a standard to be developed that eliminates the strangulation hazards posed by window coverings. This is evidenced by the fact that manufacturers have been selling products for several years that eliminate the strangulation hazard. Clearly, the technology already exists to address the hazard.
Myth: There is no universal technologic fix for all window coverings so strangulation issues cannot be addressed by the voluntary standard.
Fact: Different solutions can be applied to different products. As noted above, the technology to eliminate cords on window coverings already exists. Fixes for stock products exist and custom products are being sold in large retail stores today and several manufacturers offer cordless window coverings.
The real culprit is money. Manufactures don’t want significant changes to the voluntary standard because that would eliminate some (not all) of their product lines, thereby affecting their bottom line.
Myth: There is nothing more WCMA could do to eliminate the strangulation risk window coverings pose to children.
Fact: All WCMA has to do to eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of strangulation is to develop a standard that does not allow accessible, long cords. In other words, they simply need to develop a standard that keeps up with the products in the marketplace. However, as their latest draft of the voluntary standard demonstrates, the WCMA standard allows proliferation of the least safe products on the market instead of drafting the standard to the safest products currently feasible and available.
Myth: It is not true that 497 children have been killed or seriously injured by accessible cords on window coverings since 1983. The rate of injuries and deaths has been reduced since 1983.
Facts: Sadly, it is true that 497 children have been killed or injured by window coverings. While WCMA only acknowledges the 250 deaths from 1990 to 2010, the fatality data dates back to 1983 and since that time, there has been a total 497 deaths and injuries.
Also, while WCMA claims that from 2007-2010 the average accident rate had dropped to 8 incidents a year. According to CPSC data, from 2004-2010, there have been 147 incidents. This averages 21 incidents per year.
Myth: It is not true that one child per month is killed by a corded window blind.
Fact: In fact, it is true that on average, one child has died every month for the last 27 years as a result of being strangled by a corded window blind. Using the same database that WCMA relies upon, 250 divided by 20 years is 12.5 per year. Thus, the average death rate of 12 per year is proven by data that even WCMA relies upon from CPSC.
Myth: Educational campaigns are the answer to hazards posed by window coverings and window coverings are perfectly safe when used as directed.
Fact: Educational campaigns attempt to spread the word about dangerous corded window coverings; however, some people miss the message. In other words, educational campaigns are a “safety net,” but a net has holes. Educational campaigns do not capture consumers who do not read magazine ads and those who do not happen to be listening to the news during the 1-2 minute segment when window blind strangulation is discussed.
Furthermore, WCMA’s educational campaign fails to tell consumers that corded window coverings cannot be installed and safely used in homes with children since even blinds that meet their standard – in particular, those with long cords – can and have killed children. The core message – corded blinds are not safe for homes with children – is not found on product packaging which is the place a consumer may look for information at the time of purchase.
The fact that children continue to die at the same rate they died 20 years ago proves that these educational campaigns are not working effectively.
Myth: The WCMA Standard is the most stringent in the world and the latest proposed revision to those standards goes even further in minimizing potential risk.
Fact: Boasting that safety standards are the most stringent in the world does not mean that the standard effectively addresses the strangulation hazard, does not make window coverings in the United States safe, nor does it mean that the standard cannot be strengthened. WCMA’s “revised” standard makes only nominal changes (i.e., to warning labels and a durability test for tension devices) but products designed to meet this standard – and similar, past versions of the standard – have killed children and will certainly continue to do so.
Any significant changes that would actually lessen the risk of strangulation are omitted. Most notably, the revised WCMA standard permits long cords that can wrap around a child’s neck. Long cords can and have caused strangulation. In fact, 98 out of 125 incidents in the last 5 years were on long cords.
Thus, window coverings that comply with WCMA’s “most stringent standard in the world” can strangle children. This fact alone nullifies the notion that the revised standard has any practical significance in terms of potentially reducing the strangulation risk.
Myth: 80 percent of reported fatalities on window coverings involve older products that do not meet current safety standards.
Fact: CPSC data does not support this statement. While CPSC data shows that at least 1 child continues to strangle each month as a result of corded window blinds, WCMA does not use all of the CPSC data in their own accounting which explains why they state that the number of strangulation events is decreasing and that strangulations occur on older products.
In fact, WCMA only counts fatal strangulations; they discount strangulation incidents that were not fatal, including those that left children with permanent brain injuries. Additionally, their data set does not include CPSC In-Depth Investigation (IDI) reports that do not include pictures. Furthermore, fatality reports that are entered into CPSC’s data system after December of a given year are not counted and included in WCMA’s data set.
Myth: The voluntary standard process was fully open to consumer group participation and was transparent.
Fact: Consumer groups were allowed only limited involvement in the voluntary standards process. They were not permitted to participate in technical committees; technical committees are entirely comprised of industry members.
Consumer groups were allowed to serve on a “steering committee”. However, concerns and comments raised in “steering committee” meetings were ignored and suggestions made by Consumer group members were not incorporated into any aspect of the voluntary standard. Recognizing that their limited participation was for show, consumer groups withdrew from the process rather than continue to lend legitimacy to a highly flawed process.
As for transparency of the voluntary standard process, this was also lacking. WCMA withheld test data from the steering committee; WCMA removed a performance requirement for operational cords from a draft version of the standard; and consumer and industry members wanting to serve on technical committees and steering committees were denied inclusion by WCMA.
 Deaths and injuries have been carefully compiled by PFWBS
 Available on the web at http://parentsforwindowblindsafety.org/pdf/accidents2004-2010.pdf.
The government of Western Australia has awarded PFWBS AU the Western Australian Consumer Protection 2012 Award for educating the public about window covering dangers and establishing safer standard in the Industry.
PFWBS applauds John Williamson for his tireless efforts in Australia. John has been involved with PFWBS since 2006 when we wrote a comment on a article that was written about his granddaughter, Meesha, who was killed by a window blind cord that was improperly installed.
John Williamson, middle, accepting award.
Good Job John!!!
03 Mar / CPSC Chairman’s speech
Last week was the first week CPSC has said anything about the WCMA/ANSI standard that is under the canvass process as I am writing this. I wanted to share this with the world since I don’t think this will hit the papers.
14 Feb / Consumer Confusion
Every once in a while we will take a trip to the store and walk through the window covering section to see if things have changed on boxed window coverings. Today we walked through Kmart and found Nein Made window blinds in boxes of all sizes. All of the window blinds had the same packaging. On the front of the boxes it reads, “child safety wand enclosed” making it seem that there are no cords on the product. As we took a closer look at the product we found this on the back.
PFWBS objected to the 2011 ANSI standard written by the WCMA yesterday. There are numerous reasons why PFWBS rejected the standard.
The rest of the Industry has been kept in the dark about the facts by manufactures who stand to profit.
There are several news articles and emails going around with false information in them. Let me start with the WSJ article called A rule of Blind Injustice.
“The problem with blinds, according to safety advocates, is that the cords can be a temptation to young children, ensnaring or strangling them if they become entangled. While the industry has adopted voluntary standards for reducing the risk to children, the agency says that improving safety and reducing the hazard isn’t enough. It wants zero risk.”
April 8th will be a day I will never forget. As I was giving birth to my precious baby, a precious little boy named Gavin was passing away from the cords on a window covering. Gavin was almost 5 years old.
Consumer Groups Walk Out of Failed Window Covering Standards Process
Flawed Year –Long Process Has Not Eliminated Strangulation Risk
29 Nov / CPSC database approved last week.
Kudos to the CPSC!
Last week after a 3-2 vote, the CPSC approved a database required by the CPSC Safety Improvement act of 2008.
15 Nov / WCMA Stakeholder Meeting
This past week I attended the WCMA stakeholder meeting at the Consumer Product Safety Commission headquarters in Bethesda Maryland. During the meeting the Industry promised to “reduce or minimize” the hazards associated with window covering products. We believe that they can eliminate ALL hazards and so does Inez Tennenbaum.
CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum insisted consumer advocates be included on the committee updating the standard. But the advocates — including representatives of Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America and Parents for Window Blind Safety — say the rule was already written by the time they got involved and their votes to reject the rule had no effect. “It was window dressing to allow us to participate in the process,” says Carol Pollack-Nelson, a psychologist and consumer advocate.
Today I was at Big Lots looking around and found this roll up window blind.
20 Jun / Press release from CPSC meeting
Consumer Advocates Applaud Tri-Lateral Announcement to Eliminate Hazards Posed by Window Blinds: Urge Action Steps to Ensure Success