Canada Window Blind Warning Follows US RecallDec 17, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Following a massive recall in the United States of tens of millions Roman-style and pull-up window blinds, Health Canada has issued a warning saying these blinds pose a real "strangulation hazard" to children, adding that parents should keep children away from these blinds, said the Vancouver Sun.
The window blind recall, announced jointly by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC), was one of the largest product recalls in U.S. history. As we have reported, the recall involves 50 million Roman shades and roll-up window blinds—every such blind on the market. Several retailers, including Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Pottery Barn and Big Lots, also issued their own recalls. The recall included blinds made by and distributed by West Elm, Draper Inc., Lotus & Windoware Inc., All Strong Industry (USA) Inc., and Airtex Design Group Inc., said the Vancouver Sun.
According to the CPSC, Roman shades have been implicated in the deaths of five children and 16 near strangulations since 2006; roll-up blinds have been cited in three strangulation deaths since 2001. Since 1990, 200 infant and child deaths have occurred in the U.S.
Strangulations in Roman shades can occur when a child places his/her neck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind or when a child pulls the cord out and wraps it around his/her neck, the agency said. Strangulations in roll-up blinds can occur if the lifting loop slides off the side of the blind and a child’s neck becomes entangled on the free-standing loop or if a child places his/her neck between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.
Although not issuing a specific recall, Health Canada is urging consumers to reach out to online American groups to obtain retrofit kits, said the Vancouver Sun, which noted that some of the blinds recalled in the U.S. were also sold in Canada. Also, Safe Kids Canada said that 27 fatalities and 23 injuries have been reported in Canada due to issues with Roman-blinds. "In the past number of years, the design of window blinds have changed dramatically but there are still blinds out there that use the older mechanism and the longer cords," said Pamela Fuselli, the group's executive director, quoted the Vancouver Sun. "Especially if the cords that are looped, those are the ones that are most dangerous. They're quite longer and a child can get their necks entangled them more easily," Fuselli added.
The WCSC can be reached at www.windowcoverings.org or by calling (800) 506-4636 any time to receive a free repair kit. The agency has also issued the following guidelines to help parents and caregivers keep their children safe:
- Examine all shades and blinds in the home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. CPSC and the WCSC recommend the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit.
- Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture close to the windows because children can climb on them and gain access to the cords.
- Make loose cords inaccessible.
- If the window shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, install tension devices to keep the cord taut; tie ropes down securely.
- Only install cordless blinds or drapes in homes with young children and replace Roman-style blinds with window coverings that were made after 2001.
The Vancouver Sun said that IKEA issued a large recall in Canada on Iris and Alvine Roman blinds and Health Canada issued a recall on Brampton and Vadain International Roman blinds.