Injuries from window blinds send two children to the emergency department every day

December 11, 2017, Nationwide Children's Hospital
Experts say the only way to ensure your window blinds are safe for children is to remove all corded blinds and replace them with blinds like these that do not have operating or accessible internal cords. Credit: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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. A new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital looks at this ongoing cause of injury and fatality and urges the industry to do more for the safety of our children.

The study, published today in Pediatrics, found that almost 17,000 children under six years of age were treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. for window blind-related injuries from 1990 through 2015, averaging almost two per day. While the majority of children were treated and released, there was about one death each month - most from strangulation when a child became entangled by the neck in a window blind cord.

The dangers come 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.

"There is a misperception that if we just watch our kids carefully, they will be safe. But even the best parent in the world cannot watch their child every second of every day," said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, senior author of this study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "A curious child can quickly get entangled in a window blind cord. This can lead to strangulation within minutes, and the parent may not hear a thing because the child often can't make a sound while this is happening."

A new study shows that window blind cords continue to be a serious threat to children despite decades of voluntary safety standards for these products. Over the 26-year study period, almost 17,000 children were treated in emergency departments for injuries related to window blinds and 271 children died, most from strangulation after becoming entangled in window blind cords. Credit: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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. Most injuries in the study occurred while a child was under a parent's care and had been left alone for less than 10 minutes while either going to sleep, playing, or watching TV.

"It is unacceptable that children are still dying from window blind cord strangulation," said Dr. Smith. "We have known about this problem since the 1940s. The risk reduction approaches offered by the current voluntary safety standards are not enough. It is time to eliminate the hazard. Safe, affordable cordless blinds and shades are widely available. A mandatory federal safety standard should be adopted prohibiting the sale of products with accessible cords."

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
  • 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 the grandparents' house, child care, or school. Ask them to also remove blinds with cords to help keep your child safer.

Explore further: Be alert to blind cord strangulation risk, parents of young children warned

Related Stories

Be alert to blind cord strangulation risk, parents of young children warned

April 29, 2013
Window blind cords pose a particular risk of accidental strangulation for young children, doctors have warned in Archives of Disease of Childhood.

Venetian blinds can cause accidental strangulation

June 29, 2010
Dr Mahesh Masand, consultant paediatrician at Dr Grays Hospital in Elgin, Scotland, recounts the day when a 22-month-old girl was rushed to A&E after her mother found the toddler hanging from the looped cord of a Venetian ...

New study examines window fall-related injuries among youth

August 22, 2011
Windows are a part of everyday life for children in the United States. While many parents know that windows can be a hazard for their child, they may not be aware just how often things can take a turn for the worse.

Researchers caution parents to prevent electrical cord burns to the mouth

December 19, 2016
With millions of Americans decorating their homes for the holidays, tangles of extension cords and electrical wires are a common sight. Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have estimated more than ...

No, don't get up: These window blinds control light on their own

April 2, 2016
Smart objects in the home have been well publicized, from prototype to product stage. We hardly register surprise at the thought of doors that open and close and lights that turn on and off all on their own.

Nursery product-related injuries on the rise among young children

March 13, 2017
Parents of young children use nursery products daily but these products are associated with injury more often than you might think. A new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital ...

Recommended for you

Sucking your baby's pacifier may benefit their health

November 16, 2018
Many parents probably think nothing of sucking on their baby's pacifier to clean it after it falls to the ground. Turns out, doing so may benefit their child's health.

Newborn babies' brain responses to being touched on the face measured for the first time

November 16, 2018
A newborn baby's brain responds to being touched on the face, according to new research co-led by UCL.

No link between 'hypoallergenic' dogs and lower risk of childhood asthma

November 15, 2018
Growing up with dogs is linked to a lower risk of asthma, especially if the dogs are female, a new study from Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University in Sweden shows. However, the researchers found no relation between ...

Study shows changes in histone methylation patterns in nutritionally stunted children

November 13, 2018
An international team of researchers has found changes in histone methylation patterns in nutritionally stunted children. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their ...

Your 6-month-old isn't sleeping through the night? Relax

November 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—If your 6-month-old still wakes up at 2 a.m., a new study suggests you don't lose any additional sleep worrying about it.

New exercise guidelines: Move more, sit less, start younger

November 12, 2018
Move more, sit less and get kids active as young as age 3, say new federal guidelines that stress that any amount and any type of exercise helps health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.