Window Blind and Curtain Safety

Window treatments, especially those purchased before 2001, can become dangerous when their cords or chains are within reach infants and children.

By Maureen Blaney Flietner | Updated Nov 12, 2013 9:02 PM

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Since 1991, more than 175 infants and young children have died from accidentally strangling in drapery and window cords. This issue has resulted in industry changes and guidelines for correcting cord dangers.

Correct Cord Problems
Potential problems can be reduced in a couple of ways. For families with children, or grandparents and caregivers with visiting children, move cribs, beds, and playpens away from windows and window cords. Always keep window pull cords out of the reach of small hands.

If the home has older curtains and blinds, retrofit them. Window blinds and shades sold before 1995 had outer pull cords that ended in loops. Consumers with blinds that still have outer pull cord loops should cut the loops short, install safety tassels at the end of each pull cord, and individually tie the cord ends to secure the tassel. Horizontal blinds that have inner cords running through them to lift the slats are also dangerous. Properly installed and adjusted cord stops can limit the movement of inner lift cords. Cords need to be locked into position at the headrail once the blind is lowered to the desired length.

Vertical blinds and drapery cords with continuous loop systems can’t be cut and still operate. However, a special tie-down device can permanently anchor it to the floor or wall and reduce chances of problems. Attach the tie-down device to the floor or wall so that the cord is fully extended and securely fastened. For vertical blinds, a cord tensioning device that encloses the cord or chain loops can be installed. Wrap any cord around a cleat attached to the wall near the top of the curtain or blind.

Never knot or tie cords together to get them out of the way, as this just creates another loop in which a child can become entangled. 

Safer New Products
An option consumers may prefer — and experts recommend — is to replace any window blinds, corded shades, or other window treatments made before 2001 with newer, safer products.

Prompted by results of the investigations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, manufacturers have worked to develop new designs and safety features.

Two products by Hunter Douglas improve upon standard designs with innovative safety features. One is its Break-Thru safety tassel which is a standard feature on all of its blinds. It is designed to break open under pressure should a child or pet become entangled in the cord loop. The manufacturer also offers the Cord Tensioner, a specially designed cord weight with spring tension and brackets to improve the safety of cord-looped products.

Many manufacturers offer a variety of cordless window coverings. Some experts consider cordless the best choice for children’s bedrooms and playrooms. Cordless styles operate through the use of spring-loaded mechanisms, battery- or motor-operated lift controls, or simple wands that include both tilt and traverse functions. Pella Windows even offers an enclosed blind that sits between the panes of glass and operates with a slide control, reducing buildup of allergens and making for a safer home.