Do We Need to Recall 50 MILLION Blinds?

Hi Readers – As of yesterday, 50 million sets of blinds and shades are being recalled — “virtually every Roman blind and roller shade on the market,” according to this report on Good Morning America, following the deaths of five children.

I cannot imagine how sad the parents of those five children must be. It’s horrible. But to frantically recall 50 million blinds — one of the largest recalls in history — strikes me as overkill. The advice given on the Good Morning America  site seems to be all the information parents really need:

Do not place cribs, beds and furniture close to the windows. Do not give children a chance to climb on them and gain access to the cords.

Make loose cords inaccessible to children.

If the window shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, you can install tension devices to keep the cord taut.

Five deaths are tragic. But it is impossible to create a world in which even the most remote risk has been eliminated, and it’s not even a good idea to try. When we do, we foster the idea that absolute safety is an achievable goal,  which inevitably means blaming someone anytime anyone ever  gets hurt. This not only leads to crazy lawsuits, it leads to incredible guilt on the part of parents whose kids do hurt themselves, as kids have throughout history, despite the efforts of loving, caring  parents.

Besides, to make sure no one ever died at home again, we’d have to outlaw stairs, chairs, bathtubs, showers, doors, pets, and whatever it is that is making my refrigerator smell like  toxic stuffed cabbage. (Could it be that yummy stuffed cabbage from just six weeks ago? Hmm.) We’d have to outlaw humans, too. Because once  once you throw them into the mix, nothing is safe.   — Lenore

49 Responses to Do We Need to Recall 50 MILLION Blinds?

  1. Betsy Strohmaier December 17, 2009 at 5:41 am #

    Hi, I love your stuff and would love it if you had a “share this” or “twitter” button so I can share your stuff more easily on twitter. I am a day camp director and we love to share cool stuff with our community. Thanks!-Betsy

  2. wahoofive December 17, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    Don’t put any beds or furniture next to a window? Could be difficult advice to follow. And what about built-in window seats?

  3. Kris Underwood December 17, 2009 at 5:51 am #

    I agree, it is tragic. Not denying that.
    The recommendations listed appear to be common sense, why aren’t we using it?
    Furthermore, why aren’t gvn’t agencies using it?

  4. Nicola December 17, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    When our daughter was a baby/toddler, we looped the blind cords way up at the top of the blinds so she couldn’t have access to them. You can also buy fancy cord stops that do the same thing (see any kidproofing website).

    We also kept the blinds pulled up in her room and used curtains instead.

    This all seems like common sense to me. Which, I, as a society, I think we have completely lost.

  5. LoopyLoo December 17, 2009 at 5:58 am #

    Why not just employ a set of scissors?

    SAFETY SCISSORS, of course — we wouldn’t wan anyone impaling themselves in their effort to make their home accident-proof.

  6. Kashmir December 17, 2009 at 6:06 am #

    I heard about this recall and my first thought was ‘overkill much?’ Silly. We had mini blinds all over our apartment when my son was tiny. We kept his crib away from the window and the cord was looped over the valance of the other blinds in the apartment so he couldn’t get to them. We knew they were a danger but so is stupidity. If we went by this model, I wouldn’t cook (the oven is HOT), shave my legs (baby might cut himself!) or vacuum the carpet (what if my kid trips over the cord!?!?!)


  7. bushidoka December 17, 2009 at 6:12 am #

    I’ve been waiting to hear if you’d comment on this – when I first heard it I immediately thought of your site. I could not agree more!

  8. Michelle December 17, 2009 at 6:21 am #

    My blinds that I ordered came with cord cleats that you hook to the side of the window frame to wrap the cord around.

  9. Issa December 17, 2009 at 6:24 am #

    Oh good grief. FIVE?! As you say, these five deaths are a tragedy. But they are a personal tragedy, not a statistical tragedy that deserves national focus, policy change, or an insane recall. I’d rather see the cost of the recall turned a different direction, like into research on childhood diseases or into parental education about issues that kill many more children, like fires, poisoning, or drowning.

  10. Marion December 17, 2009 at 7:30 am #

    Five deaths is a tragedy. However, how many kids die of electrical shocks, gas heaters, fires, household drownings, etc?

    Yet we have houses with electricity, running water, and gas heat, fireplaces, and other incredibly dangerous things. *sigh*

  11. Steve December 17, 2009 at 7:42 am #

    One story about this recall said,

    “and another 16 have almost strangled in the cords.”

    Did you get that? Almost Strangled. Almost means they DID NOT STRANGLE.

    Isn’t “almost” a great word? How many people almost die, but don’t. How many children almost get abducted?

    It’s too bad this isn’t a story about how they ALMOST issued a recall for these blinds, but then their common sense kicked in and they decided it would be stupid to open themselves up to ridicule.

  12. Steven Rushing December 17, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    They should rename themselves “Parents Against Personal Responsibility”. I mean, come on! PAPR is an awesome acronym!

  13. Laura December 17, 2009 at 8:52 am #

    They MAKE these safety things you put the cords in so that they don’t hang where your children can choke themselves. They are $2 on Amazon.

    I agree! A recall? They are going to have to invent a new way to make blinds and curtains entirely if there are going to be no strings attached! Instead, they need to put out an awareness message telling people that they need to childproof their blinds just like they do the electrical outlets.

    Five deaths is tragic. But yes, more kids die in bathtubs. I don’t blame the parents, but there ARE things you can do to make them more safe, just like there are safety measures you can take for bath time.

  14. erica December 17, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    I’ve been furious over the ridiculousness of it all as of late. I was just talking to my husband about this. The first thing any parent reads in a parenting book regarding safety and “bringing home baby” is about blinds and the cords.
    I’m waiting for the government to outlaw cars…

  15. Michele December 17, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    The deaths are a tragedy but so is this insane recall. A tragedy of common sense. A death of common sense:


    By Lori Borgman

    Common Sense lived a long life but died in the United States from heart failure on the brink of the new millennium. No one really knows how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

    He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools, hospitals, homes and factories, and helping folks get jobs done without fanfare and foolishness. For decades, petty rules, silly laws, and frivolous lawsuits held no power over Common Sense. He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, and that life isn’t always fair.

    Common Sense lived by simple credos: sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adults are in charge, not the kids), and winning isn’t everything (it’s okay to come in second).

    A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, Common Sense survived trends including body piercing, whole language, and “new math.” But his health declined when he became infected with the “If-it-only-helps-one-person-it’s-worth-it” virus. In recent decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of well intentioned but overbearing regulations. He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers. His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero-tolerance policies.

    Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, a teen suspended for taking a swig of mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition. It declined even further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student but could not inform the parent when a female student was pregnant or wanted an abortion.

    Finally, Common Sense lost his will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, criminals received better treatment than victims, and federal judges stuck their noses in everything from the Boy Scouts to professional sports. Finally, when a woman, too stupid to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, was awarded a huge settlement, Common Sense threw in the towel.

    As the end neared, Common Sense drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments regarding questionable regulations such as those for low flow toilets, rocking chairs, and stepladders. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by two stepbrothers and a stepsister: My Rights, Only Me and Ima Whiner.

    Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

    Note: This piece was first published March 15, 1998 in the Indianpolis Star. It has been “modified” and “edited” by others and circulated on the Internet, even sent to me several times. Imagine my surprise to see it attributed to some guy named Anonymous. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I take having my work circulated on the web as a compliment.

  16. Floyd Stearns December 17, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    You know, why not just past legislation that requires children to be at least 12 years old when they are born.
    It would almost make as much sense…..

  17. KateNonymous December 17, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    This is why we only buy blinds with cords that don’t loop. Suddenly, a non-issue! The recall seems excessive. I think that if we had blinds with looping cords, we’d look at precautionary measures, not removing all the blinds from the house (and do what until they’re replaced, by the way?)

  18. pentamom December 17, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Ever since this choking on blind cords thing started 15 years ago or so, I came up with a really clever solution.

    I took the cord and hooked it over the top of the blinds so the end of it was far above kid-too-young-to-know-better reach.

    I didn’t have to buy any gizmos, I didn’t have to install anything, and I certainly didn’t have to replace the blinds.

    OTOH, I DID do that when it turned out the things were full of lead dust, but that’s another story.

  19. whatthehay December 17, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    I used old fashioned twist ties to secure our cords up above toddler height. Easy and usually free!

    Oh, and think that the insanity of strangulation by cord is limited to blinds? Remember the really cute and easy to make pillowcase dresses for little girls? The kind with ribbon through the top that tie at the shoulders? Well, some are so worried about this that they have made dresses with elastic at the top instead of the ribbon.

    Now, realize that I really like this pattern and may even make it, but not because it is “safer” than the old fashioned way. And, the blogger no doubt did it with the best of intentions… I only point this out as it illuminates even further how crazy we’ve become. I mean, has ANY kid died of strangulation from a dress?

    I’m all for safety, but I’m also for sanity. There’s a limit to what non-super human parents can and should be expected to do. Other than not have kids at all.

  20. Carrie C December 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    I work for a major NA retailer that sells blinds similar to the ones recalled. Every single blind comes with a cord cleat that allows the cord to be looped out of the way. Every single blind comes with a warning, and instructions for the safe use of blinds in areas where children have access. Simple – read the instructions, install properly and use common sense. It really should be that easy.

  21. Sean December 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    Odds of being killed by a blind? .00001% chance, based on 5 deaths divided by 50 mill…..and that is avoidable. How many die in bath tubs? Shall we recall those?

  22. Lavender Blue December 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm #

    That’s so stupid. My bed’s been by my window since I was two(thus including crib as well). Either keep the window locked at all times if it’s such a concern or put a screen on it like mine has. Also when i was kid, I used to play with venetian cords all the time and obviously I’m still alive. I’d chew on them, rest my chin on them and even play with my toys using the cords. Considering how strict my mother was, there was never an issue. The only thing that ever got put away with my brother and I around were ceramics and breakables. Hell, in a library summer class they had when I was ten, I burned myself with wire after I connected a battery incorrectly. No recalls or lawsuits. It was my fault and my mistake for not listening. I knew it, my mother knew it and the library knew it and that was it. The sad part of all this is that this was only about 10 years ago.

  23. montessorimatters December 17, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    How about some fabric curtains? And a floor bed? And a room that is conducive to a child’s development (which would involve getting rid of the crib that the child used to climb up to where the blind are)?

  24. Jen Connelly December 17, 2009 at 10:01 pm #

    Holy overreaction, Batman! Geesh.

    We still have 2 windows with mini blinds on them. These blinds date back to when we bought the house in 1989 (I was 12 at the time). 3 of my kids survived baby/toddler-hood in this house.

    And when our youngest was born we were living in an apt. and almost every window had mini blinds on them and yet she survived. She also survived the radiators in the living room which got pretty hot in the winter. She touched them once or twice and learned to stay away from them…even at 7 months old.

    Not to mention the countless millions of kids from my generation that survived full sized blinds. We had those ugly metal blinds that were like 2″ wide when I was a kid. We used to purposefully pull on the cords and tie our GI Joes to them for added adventures. Of course that also meant we were climbing on the back of the couch, right in the window of our 2nd floor apartment. That was back before the double paned insulated glass, too. Yet we managed to not fall through the window, strangle ourselves or befall any myriad of other dangerous disasters.

  25. Val December 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    recalls = money… plain and simple, get rid of the old, buy the new, at a discount…or you may die.

    Same with BPA, get rid of your old bottles, buy these new bottles.

    Even if companies offer refunds, human nature is to use this refund to upgrade and still spend more money with the company on the next model up.

  26. Mister Bunny December 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm #

    Here’s the thing: dogs and cats can also be strangled by those things, and many pet owners are aware of that. If you have a dog who likes to stare out the window from a couch, you already knew that the cord could be a problem. So you either make sure that use something that will ensure that the cord does not dangle to dog level, OR you separate the cord so that there’s no loop. I know, I know, kids are not pets, but honestly where DID common sense go?

  27. Eika December 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    Not sure if you’ve seen this yet. A school’s suspended a four-year-old boy because his hair is ‘too long’ and could be a distraction. He’s been in ISS (In School Suspension) for over a month.

  28. BMS December 17, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    The blind cords are the best cat toy ever! Ask my furry friend, who is here batting at them as we speak…

  29. Nancy December 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm #

    Funny how we don’t recall cars, and those are a much greater danger to kids. I like how we pick and choose; we NEED cars to drop the preciouses off at daycare and school, but blinds are EVIL.

  30. Uly December 18, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    That’s LONG hair? Wow. (And doesn’t the school have better things to worry about than hairstyles?)

  31. Jennifer December 18, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    The recall doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your blinds. It only means you can order a free kit to make your blinds safer. (And what’s the big deal about that?)As for the numbers, they say more than 200 children have been killed since 1990. A small number perhaps when compared to all the children out there, but still enough that I think it’s not a big deal to tie the cords up high or use the repair kit. Our kids will be none the wiser. 😉

    here’s the link if anyone is interested:

  32. Michelle The Uber F***n Haus Frau December 18, 2009 at 1:00 am #

    It’s begun! Santa is eeeeeeeeevvviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllL!!!!!!!

  33. skippy December 18, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    This is stupid. Just loop the cord over the top of the blinds – that’s what I do for my cats, the same thing could be applied to kids. Are we supposed to eliminate every form of cord, rope, or string from our households?

  34. deanne December 18, 2009 at 5:49 am #

    If anything, these constant recalls make it harder, not easier to make informed decisions (which may be the whole point!) Don’t think or reason, recall them all! Our crib was part of a recent massive recall and its been impossible to get any sort of detailed info about the problem:
    How serious is the issue?
    Who cares, recall them all!!!!
    Where the defective products assembled correctly?
    Who cares, recall them all!!!
    How many injuries occurred?
    Who cares, recall them all!!!
    Are all models affected? Are there simple steps I can take to avoid problems? How exactly did the product fail?
    Why are you still asking questions you silly woman? Recall them all!!!
    While I’m all for certain commonsense recalls, (lawn darts and collapsing mesh playpens are probably better off the market), it just seems to me like there’s been a mass recall of common sense lately. Just tell people what to do rather than give them the info they need to make decisions for themselves.
    sigh, maybe we need to forget about free range kids for a while and focus on being free range adults.

  35. twi-ny December 18, 2009 at 6:35 am #

    This makes me think of the thirteen-year-old girl who died after being hit by a puck at a hockey game back in 2002, the first spectator in the history of the league (which began in 1917) to die in such a manner. (One child has died at a minor league game as well.) Obviously, this is a terrible tragedy in every way. As opposed to the cords, which are just common sense, there’s not much a person can do in the stands to protect themselves from a frozen, speeding black disc.

    The NHL responded by making every arena use a huge mesh screen around the two ends of the rink, which affects the way much of the crowd sees the game, placing a barrier between them and the ice that is distracting and annoying.

    Overreaction? Or the right move? You make the call.

  36. jliz December 18, 2009 at 7:49 am #

    A nearby university-based pre-school must remove its loft and accompanying ladder – it’s not designed correctly, apparently, and “children could get hurt”. The loft has been there for years; no one has suffered injuries on it to date.
    I think all children should be required to wear full body padding and head protection as soon as they start experimenting with standing. Do not unwrap until they are 21…I recall that all of the serious hurts my children sustained occurred while I was within 12 feet of them…

  37. Deborah Morrissey December 18, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    I was reminded of a recent science fiction book, which was initially set on a planet known as a Safe World – the nanny-state taken to an extreme. Planet-wide strictly enforced curfew for minors; GPS-enabled cells/pdas which kids are *required* to have with them at all times (and do not have off switches); draconian demerit system where you can be given demerits for tripping (yourself, not someone else – shows you’re a menace to others!); etc.

    Readers of this blog might find it interesting. The author has a post where she ruminates on how fiction (particularly science fiction) can take an idea to it’s limit without danger:

  38. Kimberly December 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    @Erika the family needs to sue the district will probably lose. There is already a case in Texas that says this is a 1st admin. issue speech and religion.

    As a Texas teacher the length of the hair is only a distraction when the admin makes it a distraction. Same goes for unnatural colors. I did hate the cat’s Eyes contacts that were popular a few years ago – that drove me bonkers and gave me the creeps.

  39. wellcraftedtoo December 19, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    I agree, this does sound pretty extreme.

    However, if I understand these deaths correctly, what happened was not that the children became entangled in the long pull cords that hang to the side of the blind (many, if not most, parents–and pet owners–have learned to loop those up), but that the children became entangled in exposed cords that, in some styles of blinds, run along the outside of the blind itself (in some styles, like ‘honeycomb’ blinds, these cords are completely in between the two pieces of fabric, and are not exposed).

    Thought this important enough to post it…

  40. lonedattyof3 December 21, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    My babies roam in a fenced in area that takes up half the livingroom, including [gasp!] a blinded window. The issue is moot for us because I cut the cords to the very top, and don’t really open them, which would make the cords longer. Frustrated, the girls yanked the slats out of the bottom nine inches of the blinds so that they would have a viewing space. In retrospect, it would have been cheaper to raise them nine inches–new parents take note!

    The real danger? BLANKIE ALERT! I found one baby screaming one afternoon because of the white blanket her auntie had knitted for her. Her finger was through one of the loops, and the blanket had become radically twisted, squeezing her finger until it was blue. OMG she could have lost her finger! For the love of–of….of the Spaghetti Monster, please, I beg of you, RECALL ALL BLANKIES!

  41. thomast December 22, 2009 at 3:00 am #

    It would be great if commenters would actually read the linked information before piling on here. There are two critical points missing from this discussion so far:

    1. This is *not* about pull cords for venetian blinds, or even pull cords for roman or roller blinds. Most commenters are talking about those items, and it’s completely irrelevant. This is about the cords that are attached to the blinds themselves that do the raising and lowering when the pull cord is pulled.

    2. This recall is mostly a repair kit recall – the companies are not refunding or replacing purchases willy-nilly, but are sending out consumer-applied fixes for the concerned devices. It’s not massive waste; it’s not calling for immediate recall of all roman blinds throughout the nation. It’s offering consumers a free kit that they can apply if they choose to make their blinds safer for small children.

    I think it’s important to turn a critical eye to massive recalls, but a critical component of what has made Lenore’s work so compelling is its focus on rational evaluation of the facts. This comment thread includes many irrational, knee-jerk reactions not based on the actual facts, and that’s disappointing.

  42. Bernadette Noll December 22, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    It seems like this information has been around for a really long time. Wonder why it’s being treated as new stuff. I truly thought it had been around so long that it had become common sense. Not so common I guess.

  43. KW December 22, 2009 at 11:47 am #

    Personally, I choose not to have roman shades or similar window coverings in my home. As has been mentioned a few times, it is not the pull cord that is dangerous, but the cord within the shade itself. With mini blinds, it is easier to get the pull cord up and out of the way. With roman shades, the cord is within easy reach any time the blind is closed. Nice to see they have a repair kit now.

    We actually hope to get rid of our mini blinds also (even though they are not as dangerous) because while the pull cords can be out of the way, my monkey nephew figured out how to get the cord down to his level and he is just the type to try to be superman or pretend he’s a dog on a leash ~ he loves to loop things around his neck. Sometimes it is safer to simply childproof. I’m sure much of it depends on the particular children in a person’s home. We don’t have my nieces and nephews here often, but often enough that I’d rather not have to be constantly on alert over whether they are scaling the back of the couch to get at the cord that someone forgot to loop up or that wasn’t looped well enough.

  44. Brian December 23, 2009 at 11:12 am #

    It’s like I always said. “You can’t idiot proof everything because idiots are so ingenious”

  45. dar205 December 24, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    You need to do all those things on the list just to make sure the blinds aren’t damaged by the children.

  46. Gary December 31, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    If you remove your blinds from the windows…well then the BAD man will look inside and know when you are alone. We ALL know what happens then. I think we should all just hide in the garage. WAIT! There are chemicals there known to cause cancer. Go hide in the CLOSET. WAIT. The plastic dry cleaning bag…..arrrrtghh run for your life! But be careful your shoes are tied so you don’t trip and fall.

  47. Andrea March 24, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    …horrible. Parents shopping around for baby-stuff can easily get overwhelmed by what’s out there. In addition, as the article shows, safety is of big concern. I did some research on baby-cribs and their safety and what I found is that there are specific crib safety standards – if you verify that your new crib adheres to these safety standards, you can be sure that there will be no harm caused by the crib – [design|layout] itself. Mandatory industry safety standards as set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). In addition, there are voluntary standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Cribs that meet or exceed these safety standards are certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). So watch for a JPMA certification if you purchase a new crib, to assure the maximum safety for your baby or toddler.
    Safety standards and certifications like that should be made mandatory for all baby – article.

  48. Andy Hughes April 8, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    I have to say that I think common sense has to prevail here. Sure I think we need to educate people to be aware of the risks, after all if they’ve never had blinds or children, they are not to know are they.

    When we sell blinds to families we always remind them of the risks with younger children and in most cases they hadn’t given it a thought.

    I think it’s 60% the responsibility of manufacturers and distributors to put some sort of disclaimer with the instructions (those that don’t already) and 40% common sense on the part of the buyer.

    Andy Hughes – In the conservatory blinds business for over 17 years. Talking blinds, making blinds, selling blinds.


  1. Top Posts — - December 19, 2009

    […] Do We Need to Recall 50 MILLION Blinds? Hi Readers – As of yesterday, 50 million sets of blinds and shades are being recalled — “virtually […] […]