Dec. 15, 2009 -- The risk of strangulation in children has prompted the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Window Covering Safety Council to issue a voluntary recall today for more than 50 million Roman-style shades and roll-up blinds.
Five deaths and 16 near-strangulations have been reported since 2006 in Roman shades, the CPSC says in a news release; three deaths connected to roll-up blinds have been reported since 2001.
About 5 million Roman shades and some 3 million roll-up blinds are sold annually, according to the CPSC.
Strangulation in Roman shades can occur when children put their necks between exposed inner cords and the fabric on the backside of the blind, or when a child pulls the cord and wraps it around his or her neck, the CPSC says.
In roll-up blinds, strangulations can occur if the lifting loop slides off the side of the blind and a child's neck becomes entangled on the freestanding loop, or if a child puts his or her neck between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.
CPSC spokesperson Kim Dulic tells WebMD that many companies are involved in the recall.
Many of the recalls are being made by major retailers, including Walmart, J.C. Penney, and Pottery Barn.
Manufacturers and stores involved include:
- J.C. Penney Purchasing Corp. of Plano, Texas, is recalling more than 2.2 million Roman shades and about 340 roll-up blinds.
- Walmart Stores Inc., of Bentonville, Ark., is recalling about 1.1 million of the products -- 600,000 roll-up blinds and 500,000 Roman shades.
- Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and PBteen division of Williams-Sonoma Inc. of San Francisco are recalling about 305,000 Roman shades and 45,000 roller shades. About 85,000 Roman shades were recalled Aug. 26, 2009.
- International Merchandise of Columbus, Ohio, is recalling about 355,000 Deluxe Matchstick Roll-up Shades sold exclusively at Big Lots.
- Lotus & Windoware Inc. of Memphis, Tenn., is recalling about 250,000 Oval Roll-up Blinds sold at Ace Hardware and Big Lots.
- All Strong Industry (USA) Inc. of Ontario, Calif., is recalling about 290,000 Roman shades.
- Airtex Design Group Inc., of Minneapolis is recalling about 2,000 Roman shades "Weren't Built in a Day" sold exclusively by The Land of Nod.
- West Elm of San Francisco is recalling about 42,000 Jute/Poly Roman shades.
- Draper Inc. of Spiceland, Ind., is recalling about 1,800 Roman shades.
Hazards of Window Coverings
The industry trade group, the Window Covering Safety Council, says the voluntary recall is being issued to repair all Roman shades and roll-up blinds "to prevent the risk of strangulation to young children."
Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the CPSC, says the agency has been investigating window covering hazards for at least 15 years and working with the trade group to "ensure the safety of window coverings."
In 1994 and again in 2000, the CPSC says it and the Window Covering Safety Council announced recalls to repair horizontal blinds to prevent strangulation hazards posed by pull cord and inner cord loops. As a result, it says the industry modified its products and provides free repair kits for existing horizontal blinds and other window coverings.
In October this year, the CPSC issued a new safety alert to "warn parents about the dangers" of the window coverings. It urges consumers who have such shades to contact the Window Covering Safety Council at www.windowcoverings.org or by calling 800-506-4636 at any time to receive free retrofit kits.
The two organizations urge parents and caregivers to:
- Examine all shades and blinds in homes to make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. Both recommend the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit.
- Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture near windows with the coverings.
- Make loose cords inaccessible.
- If window shades have looped bead chains or nylon cords, install devices to keep the cords taut.
More information, including photos of Roman shades and roll-up blinds, can be found at the CPSC web site.