Corded Window Treatments and Child Safety is No Joke

by Kim Newby for Insolroll

Many of you in the window treatment industry will have seen this viral video by Parents for Window Blind Safety and Red Castle Productions. If not, here it is so you can get up to speed:

This film is hard to watch. It’s heartbreaking. And yet, when you view it on YouTube, you will see many ignorant and even snarky comments by YouTube users. This is disturbing, and yet, not surprising. I work in the window treatment industry, and even there, a person can hear similar comments made by people involved in all aspects of the business. Why? I wish it were a simple answer, but it isn’t. A myriad of  factors come into play, but maybe, just maybe, I can make a little dent here.

Argument 1: “You can’t keep every child safe from every hazard out there, including corded window blinds”

Let’s start with this favorite. Yes, there are many, many hazards out there that can bring harm to children, in our homes, in the yard, the playground or even at school. Some folks like to use this argument, suggesting that “we can’t make everything safe, so why even bother, and where will it stop”… and yet, as a society, we have continually enacted laws to add layers of safety to homes. We added child-proof safety caps to medicines and toiletries that could harm children. A whole industry has grown up around devices that lock our cabinets, doors and toilet lids, or soften the sharp corners of the family coffee table. Today’s homes have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, UL Listed and approved electrical components and devices, and all kinds of building codes in place to ensure that certain standards of safety are met. We might grumble from time to time about the restrictions and requirements such measure impose, but who would argue that they are in our best interest? And who would buy a house that had not met them?

I have two children. I chose that path, and when I embarked on it, my awareness of my environment changed forever. But whether you share that path or not, by choice or by fate, I ask, why would we not mitigate a danger we have control over? I may not be able to control every kind of hazard, but the ones I can control, I will.

Legislation, codes and mandates happen when the numbers dictate. If 2 people a year die from falling toasters, there probably isn’t going to be a law banning toasters. If 20 people a year die from falling toasters, you may start to see online video campaigns against toasters, and lawmakers calling for toaster reform. According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission (see the citation in the film), 26 children per year strangle on window blind cords. A good number of them die, and others are left permanently brain damaged, without the ability to walk, talk, or perform other simple life functions. And it’s not just over a single year. This has been going on for a while, and hundreds of strangulations have occurred. Is that enough to enact a change?

 Argument 2: “Parents need to do their jobs and keep an eye on their kids!”

I suppose if you have no children, or if you have them and have been lucky, it’s easy to point a finger like this. Like the film says, things happen “in an instant”. Things you never dreamed of, and who among us has never been distracted for an instant? Or attentive, but focused on the wrong thing at the wrong moment? Our society is built upon the knowledge gained by previous generations, and it allows us to move forward. The only reason a smart phone is possible today is the substantial foundation of scientific and technical knowledge built up over hundreds of years. It works the same way with child safety- over many generations, we have learned more about household hazards and how to lessen or eliminate them. And it’s not just parents and their children- it’s schools, hospitals, and all manner of public places where these things can happen.

Argument 3: “I never had cordless blinds, and I survived!”

Really? If this argument of “luck”, or “beating the odds” held water, we wouldn’t have established any of the safety measures I mentioned for argument 1, and we’d have a much smaller world population. And we probably wouldn’t have made the medical and technological advancements we have, because sharp, inquisitive kids tend to get into things despite their parents’ best efforts, and do things with household items you could never have predicted. I’m guessing those kids are more likely to have a mishap “in an instant” with the cords on a window treatment product.

What can really happen in a minute

When one YouTube user asked why brain damage and death can happen so quickly in a child, user Dobie Tanpaw gave a very informed answer:

“When being strangled, there are two main mechanisms of injury. The first is compression of the carotid arteries or jugular veins, cutting off the blood flow to the brain. This is done with a minimal amount of pressure to the neck and causes unconsciousness in seconds for a child, as they have less blood volume than an adult. An adult can tolerate a lack of blood flow to the brain for as much as 15 seconds before unconsciousness.  Brain damage starts occurring immediately, and severe, irreversible, brain damage can happen within 45 seconds of unconsciousness in children, and within 90 seconds for adults.
The 2nd mechanism of injury is compression of the trachea, cutting off air flow to the lungs. This requires several times the amount of pressure as is required to compress the arteries and veins in the neck. In adults, unconsciousness occurs within 60 seconds. In children, in much less time, as their blood volume is much less, and thus they have less dissolved oxygen to consume. Again, irreversible brain damage occurs within seconds of unconsciousness.”

Solutions instead of arguments

At Insolroll, we take child safety very seriously. We offer both cordless manual shades and UL Listed motorized shade systems that will eliminate strangulation hazards associated with corded window treatments. If you don’t want to invest in motorized shades, our Quiet Spring Roller shade is a smart alternative, with Insolroll quality and truly dreamy performance. So many things are out of our control when it comes to our kids’ safety; this is something you have control over; why not do it?