Clearing up false statements with facts.

There are several news articles and emails going around with false information in them.  Let me start with the WSJ article called A rule of Blind Injustice.

“The problem with blinds, according to safety advocates, is that the cords can be a temptation to young children, ensnaring or strangling them if they become entangled. While the industry has adopted voluntary standards for reducing the risk to children, the agency says that improving safety and reducing the hazard isn’t enough. It wants zero risk.”

First let me say that cords are more than a “temptation” to young children.  Why water it down?  It is a hazard that has killed and injured 495 children!  We are not asking for zero risk as anyone can hurt themselves with anything.  We are asking for the strangulation risk/hazard to be removed.  THAT IS POSSIBLE!  Industry boasts about how safe their cordless products are to the public, which have ZERO strangulation risk on them!  We are asking that the technology that already exists on manufactures product lines to be applied to ALL window coverings.  According to manufactures “safety options” only cost about $2-7 dollars to manufacture depending on the size and nature of the product, yet they charge an extra $ 40-100 to the customer!  Industry is using safety as a profit opportunity!   Why do consumers have to pay so much for that extra safety?

“The CPSC estimates that about 12 children a year die in accidents with window blinds. Every death or injury of a child is tragic, but the risk posed by blinds is dwarfed by other common dangers. According to Consumer Reports, more than 5,000 children a year are injured or killed falling out of open windows and through window screens. Electrical outlets also pose a risk, but no one has suggested removing those through regulation.”

Since the article wants to compare window falls to window blind strangulation lets treat this like a disease.  If there were two diseases that were killing children, one more than the other, should you ignore the cure to one of those because there is no cure for the other?  I think not.  It would be unethical.  Why are we treating this different?  The bottom line is that there is a “cure,” a solution to reduce the deaths to ZERO if industry would make operational cords inaccessible but they don’t want to do that.  Can I also point out that we are not asking for window coverings to be removed from the market just modified so they won’t kill any more kids!

In order to remove all risk, all new blinds would have to be made without any of the cords traditionally used to raise or lower them, including safety varieties that tie down or up or can be retracted out of a toddler’s reach. While the industry already offers cordless products for consumers who want them, a ban would affect the more than 80% of products that do use cords, requiring costly changes in manufacturing and design.

We are not asking for a “ban” on window coverings but regulations for operational cords, which are the cause of 70-80% of all the deaths!  Why are they ignoring the majority of the problem and how can industry pat themselves on the back when at least 70-80% of the problem still exists?

Hairdryers – Safety Commission Info

Hairdryers – Safety Commission Vote Info

There used to be 17 electrocutions a year with hairdryers (see above), primarily involving kids pulling them into a bathtub.  When the CPSC pushed UL in the early 90s for a standard to require immersion protection, there were those who said it would take too long to replace all hairdryers and information and education was the way to go.  Many CPSC staff argued they had to start somewhere. CPSC pushed UL.  UL then changed its standard to require immersion protection in the switch-off position-this addressed about 1/2 of the deaths and was easy and inexpensive to do-waterproof the switch.

UL said it was done since half the deaths would be eliminated.  CPSC said no, finish the job. UL then changed its standard to require immersion protection in the switch-on position as well. The industry said those $5.00 hairdryers will cost $60.00.  The standard took effect.  Hairdryers jumped in price to about $60 ( a self-fulfilling prophesy) until competition kicked in and the price went down to less than $10 for many hairdryers.  The GFCI at the end of the hairdryer plug that provides immersion protection costs about $1.00-at least it did years ago.

My point in this story is it is an argument to use as to why CPSC must start somewhere, sometime.   Yes, it will take a long time to eliminate existing blinds in homes and to replace old blinds with new ones without accessible cords.  But unless a mandatory standard prohibiting accessible cords is put in place, the deaths will continue unabated.  Today, in any given year, there are no deaths associated with hairdryers falling into water.  It should be the same for window coverings. Consumers have windows and will always need to cover them!  These regulations if mandated will allow consumers to be able to afford more cordless options PLUS  this gives ground for smaller manufactures to compete with the big dogs of the industry w all product lines on the market.

WCMA “listened” closely with CPSC and consumer groups such as ours however they did NOT “work” with us.  They did not apply one single thing that was suggested in order to eliminate or reduce the risk of strangulation of window coverings products.  The standard will still allow the following:

1. Tension devices that are known to be faulty and have broken off walls exposing a loop that killed children in the past.
2. Operational cords that have “safety tassels” attached to them.  70-80% of all strangulations occur on window coverings with operational cords. 
3. Cord joiners have killed several children and violates prior standards by allowing a loop in the operational cord.
4. Inner cords on roll up shades which can break away leaving a 12 foot dangling cord

Please tell me if all of this is still allowed how the standard was “strengthened”?  Tell me how strong is a standard if 70-80% of the hazard risks are still there? How can this be the most stringent standard in the world?  These are the reasons safety advocates walked out.  The hazards that have been there since the 1994 standard will continue to be there! There were no real changes just minor changes, updating labels and allowing wide bands ect.  Children will continue to die at the same rate they have been dying for the last 30 years!

Here are the facts:

Products manufactured on TODAY’s market have caused catastrophic injuries and deaths.  It is not just the older blinds with looped operational cords but new window coverings with tasseled pull cords.  Don’t believe the lies Industry is spreading that the majority of these deaths don’t comply with today’s standards.  We have data to prove otherwise.

Educational campaigns by industry have failed to reduce the death rate of children,retro-fit kits have failed and caused deaths and injuries.  If children are dying on tasseled pull cords why does the industry tell the public to use tassels in their educational campaigns?  Why continue to tell the public that using safety kits with tassels is recommended?  Why won’t they tell the public the truth about these deaths?  I ask myself this on a weekly basis.

The language added by Senator Dick Durbin to the appropriations bill would allow the CPSC to establish mandatory standards for window coverings.   WCMA has had years to come up with a standard that will actually save the lives of children.  They have refused to listen to three government recommendations to eliminate the strangulation hazard.  They have refused to listen and apply recommendations of safety experts during the standard making process and have hidden testing results from the steering committee.  How is a committee supposed to make decisions on safety if safety-testing results are withheld?  What are they hiding?   This is a very competitive market and there are a few big dogs at the top who don’t want to lose their place.  It’s time for the government to step in and create a safer standard that actually has children’s lives and safety at the forefront.

Lastly, I must say that there ARE some window covering companies who have integrity.  There are some companies who are willing to go ALL OUT for safety.  We encourage these smaller companies to stand up and take the lead on safety.