Cincinnati product liability attorney and Window Blinds lawyer reviews the Hidden Dangers of Window Blinds
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least 332 children, most under the age of two, have died in incidents involving window blinds in the last 30 years.
The CPSC lists mini blinds as a leading “hidden hazard” in the home. The agency estimates that in the last 20 years, over 1,500 children were treated for injuries, many of them hospitalized. It has been estimated that one child will die each month from the cords on window treatments.
The widespread dangers may be even more serious than previous thought. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that as many as half of all window blind deaths could go unreported.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated and experienced Cincinnati, Ohio catastrophic injury lawyer, a window blinds lawyer, and Product Liability Attorney who is well versed in the science, economic impact, and human loss that such an injury or death has on the victim’s life and their family.
What are Mini Blinds?
Mini blinds are a type of window blind made of long, narrow slats held together by string. The slats are opened and closed by pulling a string. These include both horizontal and vertical blinds and draperies.
The dangers of the cords of mini blinds may not be obvious to parents until it is too late. The hazards are as simple as low hanging cords, within reach of children. Young children can become entangled in loops created by knots in the cord. Pull cords form natural traps for the heads and necks of children.
Window Blind Hazards
A December 2017 study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, concluded that an estimated 10 deaths per year among young U.S. children are caused directly by strangulation by window blind cords. These deaths are completely preventable through safety standards. Consumers and lawyers are holding window fixture manufacturers responsible for the defective child products they market and sell.
The majority of entanglement injuries occur when parents are home, although nearly all are unwitnessed. Most injuries or deaths occur when a child is sleeping, playing or watching television. Entanglements often occur soon after leaving a child unsupervised.
The strangulation hazards posed by window cords are similar to other hazards of any elastics longer than 12 inches on pull toys for young children. All of these hazards are recognized in federal toy safety standard specifications.
Over 50 percent of injuries involve the entire window blind unit. Around 15 percent are linked to the blind cord. Common injuries include “struck by” accidents, lacerations, entanglements and strangulation. Among the entanglement-related injuries, over 80 percent included injuries to the child’s neck.
The dangers with window blinds are particularly serious as toddlers gain mobility and become curious about their surroundings. Children may have the motor skills necessary to access window blind cords, yet they lack the ability to understand the risk of strangulation. They rarely have the ability to free their body once entangled.
Window blind strangulation accidents can be fatal within minutes. Accidents often happen noiselessly. In this regard, the risks are similar to child drowning accidents. Researchers note that window blind cords are as hazardous to young children as standing bodies of water.
Are Window Blinds Still Unsafe?
As early as 1981, the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified window blinds as a cause of strangulation deaths in children. The report cited window cords as the second-leading cause of strangulation deaths among children under five. They called them “a particularly insidious hazard.” Yet, these problems still exist.
In the past few years, industry safety groups, major U.S. manufacturers, and retailers, have redesigned products and developed standards to reduce the risk of unnecessary deaths. New requirements include warning labels on packaging, and additional testing for potential hazards.
But the death toll continues to rise.
Why? One reason is many homes are still equipped with the old hazardous mini blinds, endangering young children. Child fatalities continue to be reported. Over 80 percent of incidents involve older products that do not conform to newer standards.
Safety groups say any blinds purchased before 2001 should be replaced with newer, safer options. Even blinds that meet certain safety standard can still pose a hazard if the cords are tied up or if the loose cords get entangled. That is the time to contact a Window Blinds lawyer.
Industry Negligence Poses Threat to Consumers
For years, industry executives have acknowledged that window blinds with cords are a potentially deadly hazard. However, they have done little to solve any real problems. The industry’s “voluntary fixes” have merely created an illusion of safety.
Window blind injuries have been identified in medical literature since 1945. However, because the home products are still defective, accidents continue to occur today. Safety advocates recommend a mandatory safety standard. The new standard should eliminate accessible window blind cords, and the full accountability of all window fixture manufacturers.
In 1994, the CPSC announced a plan to eliminate loops from most window blind pull cords. Also in 2000, authorities took similar measures to address loops in the inner cords of window blinds. Despite these intentions and previous recalls of specific types of window blinds, window blind cord accidents continue to be a public health threat in the United States.
Unfortunately, current laws and regulations regarding window blinds are quite limited in scope, and consumers are still at risk. Some states have recognized these dangers and have begun trying to protect those at risk.
For example, both Maryland and Washington have enacted laws restricting the installation of corded blinds in day care centers. In California, a bill has been proposed to prohibit the sale of many types of corded window coverings.
Industry Dodges Responsibility for Potential Dangers
The dangers of window blinds is great enough to prompt the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to launch a month long campaign every October to educate consumers on the strangulation hazards. But the U.S. window covering industry, including corporations such as Hunter Douglas, Springs Window Fashions, and Newell Rubbermaid, still sell dangerous products.
The industry has used lobbyists and public relations campaigns to resist any real change. The fact remains that new regulations hurt the industry’s profit margin. Corded blinds account for an estimated 75 percent of the industry’s roughly $2 billion in annual sales in the U.S. A Window Blinds Lawyer can assist in recovering compensation and create a safer environment.
Companies refuse to take responsibility for the hazardous products they sell. They admit that a danger exists, yet they continue to let the blame pass. Industry officials have even blamed safety problems on consumers who install or maintain their blinds improperly. They have also blamed parents who don’t do enough to keep their children out of harm’s way.
They have blamed retailers as well, saying it is their responsibility to warn customers of the dangers. The companies have made unreasonable statements, like saying there is no need to ban blinds with cords because only a minority of American homes have young children in them.
Window Blind Recalls
IKEA and Target, citing safety risks, have discontinued the sale of all window blinds with accessible cords. Reports say Home Depot, Walmart and Lowe’s have also announced they will stop selling similar products in the next few years.
In 2009, multiple companies recalled millions of units of dangerous Roman window blinds. That represents a small fraction of the estimated 800 million window coverings installed in American homes, but the initiative by the CPSC underscored the potential dangers of the products.
The safety agency has stated that it does not have the legal authority to ban window blinds with cords, though it strongly urges manufacturers to create a safer marketplace for consumers.
Window Blinds Lawyer & Settlements
Accidents that involve children getting caught in mini blinds or window blind cords can be deadly. Parents rarely imagine that a child could find danger within seconds, but accidents happen very quickly in some cases.
Child aged from one to four are at the highest risk, according to safety advocates. Infants and toddlers tend to touch and entangle themselves in anything they are surrounded by. If they are left unattended near window blinds, they may choke or strangle themselves.
Under severe legal pressure, many mini blind and window blind companies have added warnings to their product labels, though child safety attorneys have said the products should be recalled if they are associated with injury.
As with the majority of child injury scenarios, many parents do not believe that such a tragic event could ever happen in their home, but the risks exist.
If your child has suffered a window blind-related injury, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, a window blinds lawyer, and he will help you answer these critical questions.