If you have older horizontal window blinds that haven't been retrofitted to prevent to dangerous loops, you should replace the blinds or obtain free repair kits to make them safe.

Since 1991, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has received reports of 130 strangulations involving cords on window blinds sold before 1995.

The federal agency, along with Window Covering Safety Council is recalling hundreds of millions of blinds to prevent the risk of strangulation to young children. Approximately 85 million window blinds are sold each year, according to CPSC. The recall involves window blinds with pull cords or inner cords that can form a loop and cause strangulation.

In 1995, CPSC worked with the window covering industry to redesign window blinds to eliminate the outer loop on the end of pull cords (used to raise and lower blinds) and provide free repair kits so consumers could fix their existing blinds.

CPSC also issued "Children Can Strangle In Window Covering Cords" which includs steps consumers can take to remove the hazard with free repair kits. Window blinds sold since 1995 no longer have pull cords ending in loops.

Last year, however, a new CPSC investigation of window blind deaths found that children could also become entangled in the inner cords that are used to open and close the slats of blinds. These entrapments occur when a young child pulls on an inner cord until it forms a loop that the child can put his or her head through. All such deaths involved children in cribs placed next to windows.

In most cases, the outer pull cords were placed out of reach, but the children strangled when they pulled on the inner cords of the blinds. The strangulation victims ranged in age from 9 months to 17 months.

The new investigation has prompted the industry to further redesign blinds with attachments on the pull cords to prevent inner cords from looping.

Consumers with existing blinds should have them repaired, a do-it-yourself job that can be completed in minutes without removing the blinds.

If you have window blinds that need upgrading, call the Window Covering Safety Council toll-free at (800) 506-4636 to obtain a free repair kit for each set of blinds in the home and visit their Web site for more information.

The repair kits have both small plastic attachments to prevent the inner cords from being pulled loose and safety tassels for pre-1995 window blinds with outer pull cords ending in loops.

Window covering safety tips

CPSC and the window covering council offer the following safety tips.

  • Cut the loops on the end of pull cords and install a safety tassel at the end of each pull cord. Install the attachment to prevent inner cords from being pulled loose.
  • Obtain special tie-downs for vertical blinds, draperies, pleated shades and other window coverings with continuous loop cords.
  • Keep window covering cords and chains permanently out of reach of children, including when the child climbs on furniture. Secure pull cords out of reach with cleats that allow you to wrap the cords up and out of reach.
  • Never place a child's crib within reach of a window blind.
  • Never knot or tie cords together in a way that would form a loop in which a child can become entangled.
  • Consider purchasing cordless window coverings.
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