The State of Home Safety in America (2002) revealed that injuries associated with windows caused more than 110,000 emergency room visits in a single year. Follow these tips to safeguard your family from preventable window injuries:
- Protect Children from Window Falls
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), children are more likely to die or be severely injured from window-related falls than falls associated with any other product. Additionally, most of these injuries occur during the spring and summer months. To help prevent window falls in your home, use the following precautions:
Be aware that conventional window screens are not designed to prevent a child's fall from a window.
Install specially designed window guards on upper windows to prevent children from falling out of windows.
Purchase window guards that have a quick-release mechanism inside so that they can be easily opened by an adult in a fire emergency.
Move furniture away from windows in children's rooms to prevent them from reaching windows.
Never leave young children unattended near open windows.
- Window Cords
CPSC reports that more than 169 strangulation deaths caused by window coverings have been tracked since 1991. Most were children three and younger, though children up to age six are considered to be at risk. While many new window treatments eliminate these hazards, older homes may still have window cord dangers that can present a risk to young children. To make sure your window cords do not present a strangulation danger, follow these tips:
Inspect your window coverings for inner and outer cord loops in blinds that could pose a danger to children.
If your window blinds have loops, they can easily be made safer by requesting a free repair kit from the Home Safety Council and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. Call 1-800-311-7996 to request your free kits.
Position cribs, playpens, beds and other furniture away from windows and out of the reach of all window covering cords, including drapery pull cords.
Tie window cords up and out of a child's reach.
- Window Covering Safety
The inner cords and pull cords on shades, blinds and certain draperies can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and young children. If you have young children living in or visiting your home, they may be at risk. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 169 strangulation deaths caused by window coverings have been tracked between 1991 and the present. Primarily affected were children ages three years and younger, though children up to age six are considered to be at risk.
- The Hazard
The inner and outer pull cords on older window coverings are the culprit. The middle inner cord found between the slats of mini-blinds when the blind is in its fully lowered position creates a loop when pulled by a child. If the loop can be pulled and opened widely enough, the child's head can become entangled. More than 20 children have strangled in inner cord loops since 1991. The outer pull cords on blinds, shades and draperies - such as continuous loop chains and nylon cords on draperies and vertical blinds and looped pull cords on mini-blinds - can also create a strangulation hazard to children if they become entangled. At least 50 children have died in vertical/continuous loops while more than 90 died in the loops of pull cords since 1991. Children can gain access to the cords by climbing on furniture, or when cribs and playpens are placed too close to windows.
- The History
New design requirements in 1994 and 2000 addressed the risk. Mini-blinds sold since 1995 no longer have looped outer pull cords; they now have individual tassels on separate cords. Vertical/continuous looped nylon and chain cords are sold with tension devices to keep the cords taut. (No deaths or injuries have occurred in taut cords.) Window coverings sold after 2000 also have special attachments near the head rail on pull cords, which reduce the size of the inner cord loop that can be formed. The national safety standard became effective August 29, 2002.
- The Solution
If you are purchasing new window treatments, choose only those products that meet current safety design standards. Consider buying new cordless blinds, especially for bedrooms and family rooms where children play. If you don't know for certain that you have window coverings purchased after 2000, inspect your windows now. Look for separate cords each ending in a tassel and special attachments near the head rail on pull cords. Look for tension devices on vertical/continuous looped nylon and chain cords. Also, check draperies for tension devices.
- Window coverings can be made safer
Without damaging your window coverings
Without affecting window covering operation
Simple instructions make the safety repair easy. Request your free window safety repair kits by calling toll-free 1-800-311-7996. The Home Safety Council is working with Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse to raise awareness of this hidden hazard and the simple remedy. Lowe's is offering a free safety repair kit for homes with older window coverings.
A quick check-up can reveal if your window coverings need a safety repair kit. If mini-blinds contain either looped outer pull cords, or inner pull cords that when the blind is in its fully lowered position can be extended to form a loop larger than a soda can top, they need to be repaired. If continuous nylon or chain loops on vertical blinds or draperies are not taut in a tension device, request a free safety repair kit by calling toll-free 1-800-311-7996 and make all your windows safer for children.
- Window Rx
Free safety repair kits are available from the Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse to easily correct strangulation hazards on older window coverings, without having to remove them. The kit includes everything you need to bring older window coverings up to safety standards including:
instructions for changing looped outer pull cords to safer individual cords with tassels
special devices to place at the head rail of pull cords to prevent inner cord loops
tension devices to keep continuous cords on vertical blinds and draperies taut.
Read the instructions that come with every kit.
- For Added Safety
Follow these safety guidelines for all types of window coverings:
Position cribs, playpens and beds away from windows and out of the reach of all window covering cords, including drapery pull cords. Remember, just because pull cords are out of reach doesn't mean that blinds are safe. Inner cords can still form loops and strangle children.
Also, avoid placing furniture where children can climb to reach cords on window coverings.
For additional information about window covering safety, log on to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) Website.