Window blinds injure two children every day and kill one child each month on average in the U.S., according to an epidemiologic study published in the journal Pediatrics.
From 1990 to 2015, nearly 17,000 children younger than 6 years old were treated in U.S emergency rooms for window blind-related injuries. A little less than half the injuries involved being struck by a window blind, such as being hit by a falling blind.
Just 12 percent of the injuries involved entanglements, mostly with the cords on the blinds, but these injuries accounted for most of the hospitalizations and deaths, researchers found. Data reviewed by researchers showed that nearly 80 percent of the 726 hospitalizations and more than 94 percent of the deaths were caused by blind entanglements.
Researchers involved in the study noted that there are voluntary safety standards in place for blinds and other window coverings, but say more needs to be done to prevent children from being injured and killed by these seemingly harmless house fixtures.
“Window blinds are frequently found in homes throughout the United States. However, there are potential dangers associated with these products, especially the risk of strangulation among young children by window blind cords. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ranks window blind cords among the top 5 hidden hazards in U.S. homes,” the study’s authors note.
Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told CNN that “designing the problem out of existence” would be the best solution.
“Despite existing voluntary safety standards for window blinds, these products continue to pose an injury risk to young children,” the study’s abstract states. “Although many of the injuries in this study were nonfatal and resulted in minor injuries, cases involving window blind cord entanglements frequently resulted in hospitalization or death. A mandatory safety standard that eliminates accessible window blind cords should be adopted.”
The study notes that almost all window blind incidents occurred in the home (99.1 percent), specifically in the bedroom (64.9 percent) and living room (26.3 percent). Nearly 90 percent of the window blind incidents occurred while children were under the care of their parents, and very few (less than 3 percent) were witnessed, underscoring how silent these potentially deadly accidents are.