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TODAY staff
updated 8/26/2009 2:51:49 PM ET 2009-08-26T18:51:49

In the wake of three child deaths and the near strangulation of seven other children, federal authorities and several businesses announced Wednesday that nearly 5.5 million hazardous window shades and blinds are being recalled immediately.

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The window coverings include Roman shades, roll-up blinds, cellular shades and traditional blinds that provide young children with relatively easy access to exposed cords and loops that could strangle them.

The businesses participating in the recall are Pottery Barn Kids, IKEA, Vertical Land Inc., Lewis Hyman Inc., Lutron Electronics Co. Inc. and Victoria Classics. Victoria Classics’ Roman shades and many of Lewis Hyman’s window shades were sold exclusively at Target stores.

Two of the three child deaths involved 1-year-old boys who became entangled in cords on Lewis Hyman roll-up blinds and Roman shades. One boy from Norridgewock, Maine was strangled in the lift-cord loop of a roll-up blind that fell into his portable crib in 2007. The other boy from Conway, Ark., was discovered last year with his head caught between the exposed inner cord and the cloth on the backside of a Roman shade.

The third child death involved a 4-year-old girl from Pensacola, Fla., who strangled in the loop of a Vertical Land vertical-blind cord in 2006.

‘Consider replacing the blinds’
In a statement, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urged people to examine the shades and blinds in their homes.

“If looped pull cords, exposed inner cords or exposed lifting loops are found and children are in the home or occasionally visit your home, please consider replacing the blinds or shades with products that do not have exposed pull cords or inner cords,” the agency advised.

Six incidents of near strangulation involved Pottery Barn Kids’ Roman shades. In all six cases between 2006 and 2008, children became entangled in the exposed inner cords on the back of the shades. 

Image: Vertical blinds
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
A 4-year-old girl from Pensacola, Fla., strangled to death in the loop of a Vertical Land vertical-blind cord in 2006.
“Scissors were used to release two of these children,” the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported. “No permanent injuries were sustained.”

One of those six children was Collier Ursprung, a toddler from Fort Worth, Texas. Collier was supposed to be sleeping in his crib when his parents heard him scream.

“We scurried across the room to find him standing in his crib with a loop of cord from the shade near his bed wrapped around his neck, and he was unable to get out of it,” Collier’s dad, Dr. Robert Ursprung, told TODAY.

Ursprung, a pediatrician, and his wife, Susan Ursprung, were able to free their son from the makeshift noose, but they were shaken by the seriousness of the situation.

“We noticed ligature marks around his neck from the cord actually cutting into his skin,” Susan Ursprung said.

Son found hanging, rescued
The seventh near strangulation reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission involved IKEA Roman blinds. A 2-year-old boy was saved when his mother found him hanging from the blinds’ looped bead chain.

No incidents have been reported involving window coverings sold by Lutron Electronics Co. and Victoria Classics, but their products are being recalled because of design hazards.

For detailed information on any of these product recalls, visit the Web site of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here are some additional details about the products involved:

LEWIS HYMAN INC.

  • Name of product: One-quarter-inch OvalRoll-up Blinds and Woolrich Roman Shades
  • Units recalled: About 4.2 million roll-up blinds and 600,000 Roman shades
  • Importer:  Lewis Hyman Inc. of Carson, Calif.
  • Sold: The Roman shades were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide and on Target.com from March 2006 to December 2008 for between $25 and $43. The roll-up blinds were sold at retail stores nationwide from January 1999 through December 2003 for between $6 and $20.
  • Consumer contact: Lewis Hyman Inc. by phone at (877) 354-5457 or (310) 532-5700, or online at this site.

LUTRON SHADING SOLUTIONS

  • Name of product: Roller Shades
  • Units recalled: About 245,000
  • Distributor: Lutron Electronics Co. Inc. of Coopersburg, Pa.
  • Manufacturer: Virginia Iron and Metal Company Inc. (VIMCO) of Ashland, Va.
  • Sold: Through specialty dealersand Expo Design Centers nationwide from January 2000 to April 2009 for between $200 and $2,000 per shade.
  • Consumer contact: Lutron by phone at (866) 793-4270 or (888) 588-7661, or online at this site.

VICTORIA CLASSICS

  • Name of product: Thermal Sailcloth and Matchstick Bamboo Roman Shades
  • Units recalled: About 163,000
  • Importer:  Victoria Classics of Edison, N.J.
  • Sold: At Target stores and at Target.com nationwide from September 2008 to June 2009 for between $15 and $40.
  • Consumer contact: Victoria Classics by phone at (800) 583-9845 or online at this site.

IKEA

  • Name of product: MELINA Roman Blinds
  • Units recalled: About 120,000 units
  • Distributor: IKEA Home Furnishings of Conshohocken, Pa.
  • Sold: At IKEA stores nationwide from August 2006 to June 2008 for between $20 and $40.
  • Consumer contact: IKEA by phone at (888) 966-4532 or online at this site.

POTTERY BARN KIDS

  • Name of product: Roman Shades
  • Units recalled: About 85,000 units
  • Distributor: Pottery Barn Kids/Williams-Sonoma Inc. of San Francisco, Calif.
  • Sold: Pottery Barn Kids catalog nationwide and through the firm’s Web site at PotteryBarnKids.com from January 2003 to May 2007 for between $30 and $60.
  • Consumer contact: Pottery Barn Kids by phone at (800) 492-1949 or online at this site.

VERTICAL LAND INC.

  • Name of products: Horizontal and Vertical Blinds and Cellular Shades
  • Units recalled: 15,400 horizontal blinds, 16,400 vertical blinds, 800 cellular shades
  • Manufacturer: Vertical Land Inc. of Panama City Beach, Fla.
  • Sold: At Vertical Land stores in Panama City and Pensacola, Fla., from January 1992 to December 2006 for between $60 and $200, depending on the size of the blind.
  • Consumer contact: Vertical Land by phone at (800) 423-8653.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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