TODAY   |  December 14, 2009

50 million shades and blinds recalled

Dec. 15: The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a recall of every Roman and roll-up shade in homes with kids, saying they pose an immediate threat to small children. NBC’s Tom Costello has the latest on what you should do if your home is affected.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> very much. now that major blind recall being announced this morning that involves every roman and roll-up shade in homes with children. nbc's tom costello has the details.

>> reporter: collier upspring was 18 months old and supposed to be sleeping in his crib, when his parents suddenly heard a 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.

>> reporter: robert, a pediatrician, managed to free his son from the noose, but it was immediately clear they had had a very close call .

>> and then we noticed ligature marks around his neck from the cord actually cutting into his skin.

>> reporter: collier 1 of 16 children nationwide to nearly strangle to death in the cord from roman shades and roll-up blinds. eight other children have died. inez tenenbaum runs the consumer products safety commission .

>> well, this is a roll-up shade, and the risk is this cord becomes detached, and babies have strangled or nearly strangled in this cord.

>> reporter: this is enough, right here, to strangle a child.

>> it is. it is.

>> reporter: and roman shades like the kind that nearly killed collier, with the cord running along the back. now, the cpsc and the window covering industry are recalling every roman blind and roll-up shade in homes where children are present, roughly 50 million in total. with some of the biggest retailers involved, including walmart, pottery barn , jcpenney, ikea and target. customers can receive a repair kit to make them child-safe. and if the original manufacturer is no longer in business, the industry will provide the kit.

>> parents need to understand that these are hidden dangers, that a child can get entangled and strangled on these cords very quickly.

>> reporter: over the past four months, the cpsc has issued 20 recalls for millions of shades and blinds. so, it's now considering mandatory design standards to keep kids safe. we are live at the consumer products safety commission . this is a massive recall. essentially, it involves every roman shade with a cord and every roll-up blind in which there is a risk of a child literally strangling to death. there is an incident every single month. there is a fix for this, a repair kit, as we mentioned, but you have to put that on yourself. back to you.

>> all right, tom, thank you very much. inez tenenbaum is the chairman of the consumer products safety commission . ms. tenenbaum, good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> people hear this term roman shades or these blinds, and they may not know exactly what we're talking about. are we talking about any window covering that has a cord attached to it?

>> we are talking about roman shades, roll-up blinds and vertical blinds . those cords are dangerous because children can become entangled and eight have strangled.

>> when you talk about the numbers here, inez, i mean, 50 million in homes across the country. this is one of those situations where, clearly, you want to save children, but you're not going to get full compliance on this. are you worried that a large percentage of those 50 million homes are going to continue to have this threat for a long time in the future?

>> well, we are concerned about that. that's why we want everyone who has a roman shade or a roll-up shade to call the window covering safety council and get the repair kit. this repair kit will make the roman shade cordless and will make the roll-up blind have a break-free, so the child, if they become entangled, will not strangle.

>> but is this such an imminent threat , inez, that you want people, in the time between now -- requesting that repair kit -- and receiving that repair kit, are you suggesting people take these off their windows?

>> i'm suggesting that people with children make the windows -- make the shades inaccessible. so, if you have a child, don't put a window covering over the crib or behind a sofa where children like to get on top of and play. use your own best judgment. if you have children in the home so that the children will not get behind these shades and get entangled in the cord.

>> has the industry cooperated fully on this? i know there have been up to 20 recalls of blinds and shades over the last four months. have they been proactive enough in eliminating this risk?

>> we do not feel like the industry has stepped up to the plate as quickly as we wanted them to. that is why we are coming forward and we will be having a stronger standard, so in the future, these cords will not be attached to the window shades .

>> inez tenenbaum , the chairman of the cpsc. inez, thanks for your time this morning. i appreciate it.

>> thank you, matt.

>> and for a free repair kit, you can call the number on your screen right now. that is 800-506-4636. i'll give it one more time. it's 800-506-4636. we've got a lot more information on our website at todayshow.com. it's 10 minutes after the hour. here's