Deadly Window Blinds: A Hidden Hazard in Your Home

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Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Connect with her via Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website, Leamy.com.

It sounds like a freak accident, but it’s not. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly once a month a child dies by strangling in the cords of window blinds. That’s why CPSC has long-considered corded window blinds one of the top five hidden hazards in our homes. We got the word out in an on-air segment on The Dr. Oz Show recently, and now I’m following up with more life-saving details.

First and foremost, the CPSC says ideally there should be no window blinds with accessible cords in homes where children live or visit frequently. And while that may sound dramatic, it’s nothing compared to this video that demonstrates the potential ways for a child to strangle that the agency prepared. I counted at least seven different strangulation methods, all based on cords forming loops, which are the enemy. It’s like a catalog of horrors — one that everyone with children should watch.

If you’re wondering where to buy cordless window blinds, don’t worry, they’re readily available. Late last year Target and Ikea became the first retailers to pull all blinds or shades with accessible cords from their shelves and begin selling only cordless blinds and those with inaccessible cords. “This is the exact kind of leadership and corporate responsibility that has been needed to end the decades of senseless and preventable deaths of children from window cord strangulations,” says Elliot F. Kaye, chairman for the CPSC. “The window covering industry has steadfastly denied that this was possible and they are being proven wrong.”

So, are the safer blinds for kids affordable? Yup. I just checked and most of those I saw online at Ikea and Target sell for $15 to $25 and there were even a couple of options for $2 to $5.

Here’s an idea: every baby shower registry from here on out should include sets of cordless window blinds for the proud parents. Pass it on!

Again, the government gurus who study incident data believe cordless blinds and blinds with cords that kids can’t see or touch are the solution for homes where children live or visit frequently. If you will have children in your home only once in awhile, there are other, more modest steps you can take. Find those safety tips here.