We instinctually seek to protect children from harm. We make sure they can’t reach an open flame or touch the sharp edge of a blade. We keep guns out of reach and we clear coins and other small choking hazards from the hands of toddlers.
Window cord blinds, on the other hand, don’t look all that dangerous. In homes throughout the country, these products are silent killers. The danger, as as been proven time and again, is that there is a risk the cord can get wrapped around a child’s neck, causing strangulation.
Although the industry has insisted that its own voluntary manufacturing guidelines and educational programs were enough to curb the danger, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is renewing its fight to ban blinds with potentially dangerous cords.
As reported by ABC News, in the last three decades, several hundred children have died or suffered serious injury as a result of becoming entangled in these products. CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye cited “greed” as the only reason the industry has refused to completely phase out these potentially lethal products.
As our Winston-Salem child injury lawyers know, the problem is the CPSC can’t outright ban these products without first undergoing an arduous process, and it’s not clear the agency would even succeed if it initiated it – even in light of the hazard. But it has been upping the pressure on retailers.
Just in the last several months, retail giants like Target and IKEA have pledged to stop selling window blinds with cords. Others, including Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot, say they will eventually do the same, but probably not for another three years.
But Kaye noted that while that’s pending, an estimated one child will die every month in this country – due to a hazard that is entirely preventable.
The industry says it shouldn’t have to ban the blinds because only 1 in 10 American homes have small children, and there has been an effort to educate them, although there remains value in corded blinds to other consumers. Likely the bigger issue is that cordless blinds can be more difficult to manufacture and are usually more costly. However, safety advocates say these costs are overstated, and that the actual cost of cordless blinds is really only $1 to $2 per set.
Even so, the industry has failed to incorporate cheaper designs, like retractable cords or covered cords, that would not be accessible to small children.
An industry spokesman, speaking on this same problem four years ago to The New York Times, said manufacturers can’t be responsible to eliminate every hazard to every consumer.
Our product liability lawyers would argue that while that may be true, in these cases, we are talking about a known hazard with a relatively simple solution. This would likely be strong grounds to assert strict products liability against the manufacturers in the event a child is seriously injured or killed by these devices.
The hope is that if retailers can be convinced not to sell the item, manufacturers will have no choice but to make a safer design.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
After 30 Years, Hundreds of Deaths and Injuries, New Push on Window Blind Cord Safety, Nov. 6, 2015, By Cindy Galli and Brian Ross, ABC News
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