Window Blind Strangulation
In February 2014, three children died due to strangulation by becoming entangled in blind cords, all under the age of 7. On March 1, a 2-year old boy died from cord strangulation. While sad, these are, unfortunately, not the only occurrences. Between 1996 and 2012, there were 293 child deaths attributed to strangulation by blind cords. There are hundreds of others who are injured each year by these cords and are taken to local emergency rooms for treatment. While many survive unscathed, some children can develop permanent injuries from the incident, including permanent brain damage.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that an average of 12 children die annually due to becoming tangled in blind cords. Consumer safety advocates claim that the CPSC has failed to create mandatory regulations regarding these cords. Roman shades, roll-up blinds and mini blinds make up the majority of the dangerous blinds. The cords from these blinds can become tangled around a child, particularly around the neck, and quickly choke them.
While there have been window blind strangulation lawsuits in several states, Florida included, the CPSC has not moved to eliminate dangerous cords from the most commonly found window blinds. From 1994-1996, the industry participated in a voluntary program that refitted blind cords to provide tassels to separate the cords. The CPSC warned manufacturers that this program would fail. It did. Consumers simply tied the cords together because the tassels were not easy to use, negating the retrofit.
In 2000, after 16 more children died and more window blind strangulation lawsuits were filed, the CPSC put pressure on the window blind industry to pursue another retrofit on a voluntary basis. This time the industry offered “cord stops” to prevent inner cord strangulations, but allegedly did not inform the public as to how to install them. The cords still formed a loop that could cause a child to become entangled in the lower rail rather than the pull cord.
Finally in 2009, the CPSC pressured manufacturers to issue a recall on Roman Shades due to the exposed inner cord. There were 55 million shades recalled. However, many of these shades may still be hanging in Florida homes or are on Florida store shelves.
Despite the number of window blind strangulation lawsuits and the voluntary recalls, the window blind industry continues to manufacture and sell blinds alleged to be defective. Because the recalls and CPSC notices were voluntary in nature, manufacturers and retailers were able to keep the blinds on their shelves until the stock was gone.
These cords account for 80% of all strangulation deaths that involve window shades. There are no regulations pending to prevent manufacturers from continuing to use this design. Window blind strangulation lawsuits have not been successful in changing the law.
Contact Attorney Group for Florida
If you believe your child has been seriously injured or died due to strangulation by a window blind, contact Attorney Group for Florida for a consultation. We can help answer your questions and connect you with an affiliated Florida attorney if you decide to pursue a claim. Contact us today for your free consultation.