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Blinds Safety Warning from Health Canada


OTTAWA — The cords on window blinds are a real "strangulation hazard" and parents should keep them away from small children, Health Canada warned Tuesday, in light of a massive product safety recall in the United States.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council issued the recall on more than 50 million Roman-style and pull-up blinds sold in the United States at major retailers including Wal-Mart, JC Penney and Pottery Barn.
The commission said there have been five deaths and 16 serious injuries associated with the blinds since 2006 in the U.S. Since 1990, there have been a total of 200 infant and child deaths in the United States.
Health Canada urged consumers to contact the American groups online for retrofit kits, shying away from announcing a similar recall despite the fact that some of the blinds were sold in Canada.
Safety advocates have been raising concerns for years, because the long cords that pull the blinds open and close can easily loop around a child's neck and strangle them.
According to Safe Kids Canada, there have been 27 deaths and 23 injuries reported resulting from Roman-blinds.
"In the past number of years, the design of window blinds have changed dramatically but there are still blinds out there that use the older mechanism and the longer cords," said Pamela Fuselli, the group's executive director. "Especially if the cords that are looped, those are the ones that are most dangerous. They're quite longer and a child can get their necks entangled them more easily."
Fuselli said parents should make sure the ropes on their blinds are tied down and are not reachable by small hands. All furniture, such as couches and cribs, should not be near blind cords.
The U.S. groups also recommend that only cordless blinds or drapes be installed in homes with young children and that all Roman-style blinds be replaced with window coverings manufactured after 2001.
The recall affects the majority of blinds sold in the U.S. including types manufactured and distributed by West Elm, Draper Inc., Lotus & Windoware Inc., All Strong Industry (USA) Inc. and Airtex Design Group Inc.
Last month, Swedish retailer IKEA issued a large recall in Canada on its Iris and Alvine Roman blinds because they posed as choking hazards. There were 200,000 blinds sold in the country. At that time, Health Canada also issued a recall on Roman blinds by Brampton, Ont.-based Vadain International. Nearly 2,000 of the blinds were sold at Home Depot locations across Canada from July 2009 to October 2009.
No deaths or incidents involving these two last recalls have been reported by Health Canada.

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