You've childproofed your electrical outlets, kitchen cabinets and staircase to keep your preschooler safe. But did you also secure your vertical window blinds? It may come as a surprise to learn that the cords on window blinds pose a serious risk to young children, and, tragically, are sometimes fatal. Take steps now to eliminate this risk from your home.
Every year, around 1,000 kids die from accidental suffocation, and thousands more are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to accidental suffocation, according to the Safe Kids USA website. Children under four are at the greatest risk for these tragic events. Window blinds are a potentially deadly hazard that can strangle your preschooler if hanging loops or cords get tangled around his neck. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that a child dies in just this way about once a month.
How it Happens
Curious toddlers can get entangled in vertical blind cords in a variety of ways. They may climb onto furniture to look out the window, lose their footing and end up with the cord tangled around their neck. They may pull a loop around their neck playfully, without realizing the danger it poses. Even napping children can be killed by window blinds if the cord is dangling close to their bed as they toss and turn in their sleep. Once the cord begins choking them, they often cannot call out for help.
Eliminating the Risk
The best way to eliminate this risk to your preschooler is to replace all your vertical blinds that have cords with window coverings that do not, such as cordless blinds or drapes. Consider asking Grandma to do the same, if your child spends a lot of time there. If the cost of replacing all your blinds seems daunting, consider making your own curtains out of bed sheets or buying some at a secondhand store.
Reducing the Risk
If you absolutely must make do with the vertical window blinds that you have, take precautions to lower the risk of strangulation. Keep beds and other furniture away from your windows so that your little one can't climb up and reach the cords. Anchor long cords to the wall to keep them up high. Don't tie the cords together, though -- that creates a loop,which is even more dangerous than the cords alone.