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Gone in seconds

I lost my son Colton Shero on October 17, 2013. He was two days away from his 2nd birthday. Colton was playing in our family room playing with his 3 yr. old brother Stan. The boys had been playing in that room for their entire lives and we had done this every single day. That morning was so ordinary. I looked at my watch and realized that it was getting close to nap time and decided to go into the kitchen and make the boys a before nap snack. I also came into the bedroom to turn on a video for them to watch.

When I returned to the family room I found Colton hanging on the window blinds. We only had two sets of blinds up in our home and the family room was on of those locations. At first glance I thought he had fallen asleep, however when I got closer to the window, I quickly realized he was not breathing. My son was pronounced dead at the hospital. The Medical Examiner for the county told me that Colton died within seconds of being in the cord. I had no idea that a silent danger was hanging in our play room.

Colton was my baby and fifth child. I felt that I had this child proofing thing down pat. I knew what size car seats were recommended, I checked expiration dates on foods and medicines. I kept all chemicals out of reach and used the straps in shopping carts. I got his immunizations on time and tracked his growth on national charts. I know what he was allergic to, and monitored him at all times. I was only gone for a few moments and that is literally all it took for my healthy and beloved child to die.

I had never heard of this type of thing occurring and mistakenly thought that this wasn’t an item that I needed to worry about. After Colton died I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about this type of accident. I wanted to know if I was the only parent that this had happened to. I felt alone and ignorant. My self esteem was at rock bottom and I thought that I was the only mom on earth that had allowed this to happen. As I searched on line I found Parents for Window Blind Safety. There was a contact number on the website to report an accident. When I called the number I wasn’t sure who or what to expect. Linda Kaiser, founder, answered the phone and became a support for me immediately.

I learned that this occurs every two weeks in the US with a child dying each month. I learned that I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t a bad mother. Linda helped me to understand that not only was I not a bad mom, that I was indeed a good mom who had something tragic happen to her. I also have met many others moms who are amazing mothers that have experienced this tragic accident. I wanted to help. My son had only been gone for 3 and a half months when I started talking to Linda about ways to help raise awareness, support other families with grief and make changes in the standards that manufactures have for these deadly products.

A few weeks later, I had the privilege to fly to Utah to help with the filming of the PSA and be interviewed. I met Linda in person and became the Director of Communications for PFWBS. It is an honor to work for this non profit group and a privilege to be in contact with the families that have experience this tragedy. I no longer feel alone, unfortunately. It has been the biggest support for me on this horrible journey of grief. I am still reeling in my loss. I miss my baby every single day. I ache for his kisses and hugs. He was a bright light in my life and I am will never truly recover for the day that I lost him.

My family has been though a parents worst nightmare, yet God has given me blessing and strength. To say that the non profit has been a blessing would be an understatement. It has been the difference between my ability to get out of bed and my opportunity to share what I have learned in the hopes of saving children and families from the same fate that I have encountered.

I believe that when you know something, you should teach it. That is want I hold myself too. I know how fast and hopeless this type of accident is. I know that it happens to good and loving parents. I know that no matter what you do to protect your children there is only one way, cordless or cordless safe blinds.

I also feel that it is important to tell you that the window blinds my son died on were newer and were in compliance with the current safety standards for window blinds in the US. The product that Colton died on is currently being sold today. They were 2″ wood blinds, not lower cost mini blinds.

These products are still out there and being purchased every single day. We had our cords pulled up thinking that our child couldn’t reach them, more importantly to me, he had never shown interested in the cords before that day. I had never seen him playing with or even looking at the cords on our blinds. If only I had known the dangers of corded products and known that any cord in a blind could be pulled out to form a loop that would act as a noose. If only I had known that cordless products were out there and available to purchase. I wasn’t aware that this technology was available.

I find when I am looking around todays world, corded blinds are everywhere. They are on TV shows with children, in daycares, restaurants and doctors offices. I feel that I was in the majority when it comes to awareness of this product; desensitized to the true danger hanging in windows. I find that people in my community were as unaware as I was. I have been in 5 birthing classes and no one mentioned blinds to me. I have been to pediatric well baby checks countless times with all 5 of my children, and window blinds were never discussed with me.

Bottom line is that as a mom not one person mentioned the dangers of these products to me. I feel this should be discussed at these appointments. Parents should be told of these dangers as well as not having the correct care seat, not using too much medication when a child is sick and making sure that the crib mattress is the correct size for the crib. These professionals informed me of products that are dangerous to my children, however not one word about window blinds.

Education of this danger is lacking and the only education out there has been given by manufactures. PFWBS is committed to changing this trend. We are working to make this a mainstream conversation that is heard at all aspects of a child’s life. This vital information can prevent these accidents from ever occurring.

Erin Shero
Mother of Colton
Director of Communications
Parents for Window Blind Safety

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