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New window blinds standards to prevent child death take effect

As of Saturday, a common type of window covering will no longer be sold due to child safety issues.
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/ Source: TODAY

Window blinds and coverings with cords pose serious risk of injury or strangulation to infants and young children. But consumer advocates are hopeful that new standards for window coverings manufacturers that took effect Saturday will prevent further tragedy.

The new standard requires stock products, sold in stores and online, to be cordless or have short cords, according to a press release from an industry group Window Covering Manufacturers Association.

It's a measure that many parents had hoped for in the wake of accidents involving window blinds that caused children to be seriously injured by or suffer death by strangulation.

“The standard’s new requirements segments the market into custom and stock, and requires all stock products, sold in stores and online, to be cordless or have inaccessible or short cords,” the association's executive director, Ralph Vasami, said in a press release.

This means that custom blind orders can still have long cords, (for people who need them because of their height or a disability). But since stock blinds account for more than 80 percent of those sold in stores, the blinds you'll see on the shelves will now be largely cordless or have short cords.

Vasami says that data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that short-corded or cordless blinds will have the most significant impact on reducing strangulation risks to children.

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When most new parents baby-proof their households they immediately cover electrical outlets and place safety guards on door knobs and cabinets. But window blind cords are often overlooked as a potential danger.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that from 1990 through 2015, 17,000 children under six, or almost two children a day, wound up in the emergency room for injuries involving to window blinds. Sadly, there have been many cases of children dying from window cord strangulation, including the daughter of NFL running back Reno Mahe, whose three-year-old daughter Elsie was found strangled to death in her home in November 2016. Reportedly, the toddler had been playing with a friend when the incident occurred. Unfortunately, in most cases involving window blind cords the child does not make a sound so parents or caregivers are unaware that anything is wrong.

Hopefully this new safety standard will prevent these tragic situations. In the meantime, check out this easy guide to baby-proofing your home. And if you have corded blinds, it's time to take them down and go window dressing shopping.