On Tuesday, December 16 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recall over 50 million Roman and roll-up shades due to risk of strangulation. Five deaths and 16 near strangulations have occurred sparking the recall efforts. Problems arise when children put their necks between the loops on the blinds controlling its height and get entangled.

  • Follow CPSC and manufacturer guidelines about using all blinds and consumer products
  • Report any incidents to the CPSC's hot line 800-638-2772 or their teletypewriter at 301-585-7054
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Six companies have recalled millions of popular window blinds after reports of children being strangled by the cords. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued warnings and advised recalls by each company. The CPSC announced the recalls on August 26, 2009. The recalls involve big-name companies, including Pottery Barn Kids and IKEA, and smaller companies that sell their blinds at Target. The CPSC's chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, explained the blinds and shades pose a hidden hazard, "I urge all parents to inspect their blinds and shades immediately and obtain the free repair or refund that the companies are offering to consumers," she said.

What Is the Danger?

These types of window blinds use cords to move the blinds up and down. Several children have been getting their heads and necks caught in these cords. Small children who don't have much hand mobility can't untangle themselves. Unless help comes right away, they have their breath cut off and strangle.

The Companies with Recalled Products

Lewis Hyman, Inc.

After their blinds were responsible for two recent deaths, the company recalled 4.2 million oval roll-up blinds, which sold at nationwide retailers for $6 to $20 from 1999 through 2003, and 600,000 Woolrich Roman shades, which sold at Target for $25 to $43 from 2006 through 2008. 

These are not the first deaths from these blinds. In 2007, a 1 year old from Maine was strangled by one of the blinds' lifting loops that had fallen into his portable crib. In 2008, a 13-month-old boy from Arkansas was found strangled with his head between the exposed inner cord and the cloth on the backside of one of the shades.

Pottery Barn Kids/Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

Close to 85,000 roman shades with exposed inner cords on the backside are being recalled by this company after four kids were found with cords tangled around their necks and two other children had freed themselves.

The blinds were sold from 2003 through 2007 for $30 to $60. The company is asking customers to stop using the shades and go to Pottery Barn/William-Sonoma stores to get a credit for the purchase value of the blinds.  

IKEA Home Furnishings

After a report of a 2 year old who almost strangled and was found by his mother hanging from the looped bead chain on the blinds, about 120,000 MELINA roman blinds are being recalled. According to the safety commission the space between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the blind's backside posed a threat to children.

The blinds were sold at IKEA stores between 2006 and 2008 for $20 to $40. Consumers should return them to IKEA for a full refund. 

Target

Target is recalling about 163,000 Thermal Sailcloth and Matchstick Bamboo roman shades sold at its stores from September 2008 through June 2009 for $15 to $40 and imported by Victoria Classics of Edison, N.J. 
 
These shades are dangerous because children could injure themselves between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the blind's backside, or could be strangled when the easily knotted or tangled cord is pulled out. Consumers can contact Target for a repair kit.

Lutron Electronics Co. Inc.

Though no injuries have been reported yet, the distributor, Lutron Electronics Co. Inc,. is recalling about 245,000 roller shades sold at specialty dealers and Expo Design Centers from 2000 through April of this year for $200 to $2,000. The CPSC says the shades have a looped bead chain that should be attached to the floor or wall. If this chain is missing, customers can contact Lutron for a repair kit. 

Vertical Land

Nearly 16,500 vertical blinds are being recalled, one of which was cited in the strangulation death of a 4-year-old girl from Florida in 2006. The blinds were sold at the company's stores in Florida from 1992 through 2006 for $60 to $200. About 800 cellular shades had a free-standing looped cord, and 15,400 horizontal blinds were missing stoppers to prevent the inner cords from being pulled out and wrapping around children. 

What Should You Do?

If you or someone you know has the mentioned blinds or shades in their home, follow the company's instructions for repairing or returning the items. Here are some tips from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute to help keep your children safe:

Each company's recall hotline is available on the CPSC's Web site where the exact description of the shades and remedy is posted. The recall announcements are available at:

     

 

If your children have already been harmed by these shades, contact a products liability lawyer who can investigate the injury and determine whether or not you can sue the sellers or distributors.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • A good solution is to use blinds that are opened by a rotating stick rather than a cord
  • Keep cords out of reach from children
  • Never put cribs, beds, toys or furniture of an infant or toddler beneath or near a window or window treatment
  • Cords should be looped up and away from the reach of little ones at all times
  • Wrap excess cord around cleats or install blinds or shades that have a built-in lift system-operated by push-button or remote control
  •   Lewis Hyman Inc.
  •   IKEA
  •   Pottery Barn Kids
  •   Target
  •   Lutron 
  •   Vertical Land 
  • Were the affected window blinds sold as products for children's bedrooms? Are all window coverings with corded or looped controls possibly hazardous?
  • Do similar products pose a danger, for example a long looped phone cord on a wall-mount phone? Does someone have to be injured before a product is recalled or before legal action can be taken?
  • Window coverings can be expensive - should I expect the seller of a house I'm looking at to fix or provide credit for window treatments with cords or controls that could pose a hazard to children or pets? What if those risks aren't a concern for the seller?

Tagged as: Products Liability, blinds chocking, window blinds, liability lawyer