A couple weeks ago, as I was getting ready for church and my husband was in the living room (which is right beside the playroom), we heard a scream that sent both of us running. It wasn’t the type of scream where you know your kids are wrestling with each other or the kind of scream where someone snatched a toy. No, it was the kind of scream that rarely happens–the kind where you instantly know something is wrong.
Somehow, my 4.5-year-old son had tangled his neck up in the cord to our blinds, despite our presumed safeguard of wrapping the cord on a bracket about five feet off the ground. By the time I made it to the playroom, my husband already had his hands on the cord to relieve the pressure, and I immediately got the scissors and cut the cord away from son’s neck.
At this point, not only is my oldest son crying, but my three year old and one year old are as well, because it was a frantic few minutes for all. My husband is shaking and clutching our oldest son, while I’m holding the crying little ones trying to take deep breaths to steady my heartrate. We attempt to speak after a few minutes, but our voices are wavering so much that we give up.
The Dangers of Corded Blinds
I am well aware of the dangers of cords on blinds. I have read tragic heart-wrenching stories of young kids and blinds, and as a result, “remedied” our blinds by installing a bracket about 5 feet from the floor to wrap the cord around. This way, the cord was not dangling and was out of reach from my kids. We have lived in our current house for five months and never had an issue with the blinds…until that day.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, one child dies every month by strangling in a window covering cord. And some sources say that number is underreported and that a child is strangled by cords every two weeks. Regardless, one child a year would be one child too many.
My husband and I know the risks of cords with kids. We know how the story has ended for some kids. We thought we had implemented an adequate safeguard, but we were wrong.
After I regained my composure, I removed every set of blinds from the house. It turns out, my son was standing on a chair to get to the cord so that he could string up a toy spatula he was playing with. But that’s the thing, he could stand on a chair or furniture to get to any of our corded blinds–which makes them all dangerous.
My son’s story could have ended very differently. What if he wasn’t able to scream? What if we weren’t nearby? I’m nauseous thinking about all the “what if” scenarios.
Thanks be to God that he was not another statistic, but my heart aches for other families whose stories ended differently–tragically.
Soon after I posted my son’s story and a warning to other parents on social media, Tim Gilmer from Lamb, Britt, Gilmer & Associates reached out to offer my choice of cordless window coverings to help make our home safe for our kids. LBG is entrenched in the hardware and home improvement markets, and also acts as an outsourced extension for larger companies, such as Lowe’s.
So thanks to Tim’s generosity, I settled on a set of cordless blackout cellular shades for my Rowdy boys’ room and cordless faux wood blinds throughout the rest of the house.
This past weekend, my Dad installed our new window treatments in the playroom and all three bedrooms. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I must say that these cordless blinds are awesome. Even if I didn’t have kids, they are better than corded blinds because there is no long string and no chance of one side of the blinds being higher than the other.
The good news is well-known retailers Target and IKEA have already stopped selling corded blinds. And Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s have announced plans to phase out sales of corded window coverings in their stores by 2018.
As parents, we try so hard to protect our children. We teach them water safety and put them in life jackets; we teach them to buckle up in a vehicle; we teach them to wear helmets when riding their bikes. But sometimes we forget the less common, but easily avoidable dangers. We forget that our young, curious children are enamored with cords and ropes–and we forget where these dangers are hidden around our homes.
Parents, grandparents and caregivers, please check your blinds. Learn from my family’s mistake. Cordless blinds don’t come cheap, but there is no price you can put on the life of a child.