Government and industry officials are urging parents and caregivers during October to check their window coverings for exposed or dangling cords that can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and young children, and to retrofit or replace them with today’s safer products.

Safety experts recommend that only cordless window coverings or those with inaccessible cords be used in homes with young children. The October window-cord awareness campaign, known as National Window Covering Safety Month, is sponsored by the Window Covering Safety Council and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

According to the CPSC, corded window coverings are one of the top five hidden hazards in American homes. Many of these incidents involve older products that are still in use but don’t have the safety devices or designs instituted in the past decade.

The CPSC says about once a month a child between 7 months and 10 years old dies from window cord strangulation and another child suffers a near strangulation. In recent years, CPSC has recalled over five million window coverings, including Roman shades, roller and roll-up blinds, vertical and horizontal blinds. (Read the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Safety Alert regarding window coverings here.)

It's critical that parents with infants and toddlers be aware of window-cord safety. The CPSC recommends that only cordless window coverings or those with inaccessible cords be used in homes with young children. Window blind strangulations are preventable. Make sure all window shades, blinds and draperies in your home do not have cords that are within the reach of a child.

In addition, the Window Covering Safety Council encourages parents and caregivers to follow these basic cord-safety precautions:

  • .Move all furniture, cribs, beds and climbable surfaces away from windows.
  • Keep all window cords well out of the reach of children.
  • Install only cordless window coverings in homes with young children.
  • Make sure tasseled pull cords are as short as possible. Continuous-loop pull cords on draperies and vertical blinds should be pulled tight and anchored to the floor or wall.
  • Be sure cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit inner-cord movement.

"The bottom line is that young children and cords are a dangerous and sometimes deadly combination," warned  Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To learn more about window-cord safety, or to order free retrofit kits, go to the Window Covering Safety Council’s website at www.windowcoverings.org or call toll-free at 800-506-4636.