10 years ago today I put my twins to bed and started working on the dishes and turning in for the night. My oldest daughter and my husband always made it an event to check on the twins on our way to bed. So I went in first and saw my daughter in the corner of her crib sitting. I ran to her and saw that a cord was around her neck. My entire life fell apart that day. The EMT came, police came took my baby away and made me stay in my home until they felt they had questioned me enough. They allowed me then to go to the hospital but then pulled my husband and I apart after we learned that my daughter had died and interrogated us. I was allowed to hold my baby for the last time 10 years ago Tuesday. I remember that day just like the day we remember when we first laid eyes on our babies. She was perfect. Even with the death laid upon her, she was perfect. I didn’t want to let go of her. I didn’t want some stranger who never knew her to take her from me but I had to let her go. So…I did.
I went home in a police car and they asked me to go over what had happened because I guess they could not figure out what really happened either. I didn’t understand how a cord got in her crib. It was not until the next week when a friend of mine showed me that even though I had placed the pull cords of my window blind on TOP of the valance, my daughter was able to grab the cord that ran in between the slats and create a loop. I had no idea. I thought that her crib being three feet away from the pull cords was safe enough. Having two cribs in a small room leaves no option to move the crib away from the window. I checked all my doctor check up papers, nothing on window covering safety. How did I fail to protect my daughter? I felt utterly alone. I was alone really. People don’t know what to say to some who have lost their child is such a tragic way.
A few weeks went by and I learned of another mother who lost her child the exact same way two weeks before my baby died. Well, I thought i was the only one! Was I ever wrong. Not to long after I knew a handful of parents who had lost their child the same way my daughter died. I received a phone call from a retired NY firefighter that had been working on a way to make kids safer a few months later. He told me that my daughter was not the first and would not be the last. In fact, he informed me that children strangle every TWO weeks on cords from window coverings. One child dies per month and the other is either minor injury or severe injury where the child can no longer walk, talk, play, or take care of them selves. I could not live with myself knowing what I knew another day unless I did something. How could I know something so preventable and do NOTHING??? Parents for Window Blind Safety was founded in November 2002, six months after my daughter died.
I learned after reading over 300 In Depth Investigation reports from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that there were 8 ways children were dying on a typical window blind, roman shade, cellular shade, etc. It didn’t matter what mom was doing at the time. Reports of mom putting a child to bed, cooking dinner, aiding another sick child, vacuuming, four days after giving birth on the couch sleeping, taking a nap with their child all of these things are what mom’s were doing when their children were dying. Lower class, upper class, middle class, it didn’t matter what the mother did or how educated she was. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, typical housewives all lost their children because they had no idea how hazardous these window coverings with cords could be. They were told to use “safety kits or safety tassels.” They were told to “tie their cords out of reach, as I did myself.” They were told that tie down devices were safe but didn’t realize that they could break or become weak in the wall after a year of use. Many of these parents followed child proofing safety guidelines given on the product instructions, found on a website, in a doctors office or read a magazine article. The problem remains today, misinformation, inaccuracy in details of child proofing. Confident large manufactures promising that their window coverings are “safer” because they are newer.
Is this a vicious vendetta against the makers of window coverings? No. In fact we are supporting many manufactures who have decided to take the safety plunge and develop products that are truly child safe! PFWBS is spreading truth about how to keep children safe. This is about saving the lives of future children whose parents are misguided and uninformed. Are corded window coverings SAFE? No they are not, especially if you have one of those rambunctious kids who love to climb on things. They are not safe because we don’t know what our children are capable of. We don’t know until it is too late.
Maybe you are wondering why after 10 years we are still pressing on. Maybe I have not gotten “over” my daughters death. Maybe I am the type that needs to cling to the grief card so I can win as much sympathy from the public or my friends that I can. Maybe I just can’t live with the guilt. None of these are true. The truth is God has given me the healing and the peace I need to make it through this life without my Cheyenne Rose. God has given me the grace I need to talk to other parents who have recently lost their children so that they know they are not alone and they too can make it through life without their child. God has given me the strength I need to keep pressing on so that I can give my surviving children the best part of me that I can.
Why then am I writing this? This is for those who either have heard about the dangers of window cords but don’t believe it would happen to them and to those who have no idea how dangerous cords can be to children in the home. I am asking, as a mother, an advocate, and a friend please, replace your window coverings in your home with panels, curtains, roller shade, cordless window covering such as a blind, roman shade, etc. Start with your child’s bedroom and work outward from there. I am asking that you forward our website information on to your family, friends, loved ones.
This November PFWBS wants to see 10,000 likes on its Facebook page to represent those who have been properly educated on the facts of window covering safety. Please, go to our Facebook page and support us.
Mother of Cheyenne Rose
Founder of Parents for Window Blind Safety