Bringing Hidden Risks of Window Coverings to Light

October is Window Covering Safety Month

27 October 2015

There are hidden hazards everywhere in your home. One culprit is a mainstay in residences nationwide: window coverings. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), corded window coverings are among the top five hidden hazards in American homes for children and infants, accounting for 184 deaths and over 100 non-fatal incidents between 1996 and 2012. But why?

Loose pull cords, chains, and even the inner strings that run through blind slats pose strangulation risks to young children. Many incidents happen when cribs are placed near windows with coverings. Although proximity to the window offers plenty of light and fresh air, it also allows the child to reach window covering cords. Though young children are left alone in their cribs to sleep, there are often times when the child is awake in the crib and may take the opportunity to explore the environment around them, including that window covering.

To heighten public awareness of potential window covering cord strangulations, the CPSC and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) have made October Window Covering Safety Month. They recommend using only cordless window coverings in homes or facilities where young children may be present.

The window covering industry has developed many cordless alternatives, from drapes to sheers, mini-blinds, blackout shades, roman shades, and cordless motorized shades. The problem is that these cordless options are more expensive and there is still public demand for the traditional, low-cost corded coverings, despite the recall of millions of window coverings over the past few years. In response, the industry has also experimented with ways to lessen risks from with corded coverings, including features that restrict accessibility of cords and replacing cords with alternative materials that limit the amount of pressure that could be exerted on a child's neck.

It is important to review the risk factors associated with consumer products, especially those that are as widely used as window coverings. As new designs hit the market, a thorough safety assessment can ensure there are no added dangers and that all potential hazards are effectively mitigated. Between safety assessments, industry innovation, and public awareness, this hidden juvenile hazard can be eliminated from your home.

Jacqueline has been with Intertek since 2008 advising clients on the safety of consumer products by evaluating and identifying safety and regulatory requirements. She works closely with companies on continuously improving their safety processes. She has a background in product development, design control, and risk analysis and management. Jackie has a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Iowa.