Window Blinds and Child Injury: Safety Tips for Your Home

Most homes have them. They help keep our rooms warm or cold and even add a pop of color to tie the décor together. But window blinds can cause serious injuries or even death to young children. On average, two children under 6 years of age are treated in a U.S. hospital emergency department each day for a window blind-related injury.

While the majority of injuries are relatively minor, every year nearly a dozen children die from a window blind-related injury – most often when a child’s neck becomes entangled in a window blind cord.

Danger comes from inner cords such as those found in horizontal blinds and roman shades, operating cords used to raise and lower the blinds, continuous loop cords such as those found in vertical and roll up shades, or even from loops created by consumers after installation – when cords become knotted or tangled, or when they are tied to a stationary object in an attempt to keep them out of a child’s reach.

The dangers of blind cords peak between 1 to 4 years of age as toddlers gain mobility and become curious about their surroundings. They are able to reach blind cords, but they do not understand the danger of strangulation and are unable to free themselves once entangled. While many parents think this won’t happen to them if they just watch their child, most injuries happen while a child is under a parent’s care and has been left alone for less than 10 minutes.

Until all window blinds are cordless, parents should follow these recommendations to reduce the risk of window blind-related strangulation.

Replace. The best way to keep your children safe is to replace all blinds that have cords with either cordless blinds, blinds with inaccessible cords, or other types of cordless window coverings, such as interior window shutters, draperies, and curtains.

If you are unable to replace or remove all of your window blinds with cords at one time, start with the windows in the rooms where your child spends the most time – usually bedrooms and living rooms – and replace the others as you can.

Retrofit. Retrofit kits to address some types of cord hazards are available from the manufacturer. While the fixes provided by these retrofit kits are a good start, remember that removing corded blinds altogether is the best way to protect your child. Some of the fixes can provide a false sense of security if they are not used correctly 100% of the time by everyone who lives in or visits your home.

Move furniture. Cribs, beds, couches, and other furniture should be moved away from windows so children cannot climb on them to get to the window or window blind cords.

Every room, every home. Take these steps in every room of the home. Also talk to people at the other places where your child spends time such as a grandparent’s house, child care center, or school. Ask them to remove window blinds with cords to help keep your child safer.

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Tracy Mehan, MA
Tracy Mehan is the manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In this role, she takes injury prevention research out of the journals and into the community. As the mother of a very active 12-year-old boy and an aunt to 21 nieces and nephews, she frequently gets to see firsthand the need for various injury prevention measures. When she isn’t out trying to save the world, you can find her on the basketball court with her son, with her nose in her kindle, or exploring websites on pirate trivia.

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