This is a long post, but an important one. Please read it in it's entirety.
October is National Window Coverings Safety Month, and, today, Joe Jankoski, Hunter Douglas's VP of Merchandising and current president of the Window Coverings Manufacturers Association (WCMA), in cooperation with the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA), gave a free webinar regarding cord safety and the continuing development of process and performance of fabrication and execution of corded, or previously corded, window treatments. http://www.wcmanet.org
Concealing cords, retaining cords, and eliminating corded window coverings altogether (draperies, blinds, roman shades) has been the main focus of the Window Coverings Safety Council (WCSC) for the past few years. The WCSC provides education and awareness for window covering hazards. The reason for the concern is child safety. Too many children (even pets) have been strangled to death, or seriously injured, by cords from blinds and traverse draperies. Even the cords on the back of roman shades, or the interior cords in blinds and roman shades, are a cause for concern. Simply stated, cords pose a strangulation hazard. If a cord on the back of a roman shade can be pulled out with 5 pounds of force to create a loop that is 16.9" circumference, it is enough for a child to stick their head through. http://www.windowcoverings.org http://www.facebook.com/windowcoverings
Click the following link to see a video featuring "Super Baby" talking about window treatment safety. http://vimeo.com/8181727
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with educating consumers about protecting children from one of the top five hidden hazards in the home, window treatment cord strangulation. Roughly, once a month, a child in the US is strangled or injured from window treatment cords. http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2010/12/kids-and-cords-don%e2%80%99t-mix/
CPSC data reports that in 1990, there were 16 fatalities from window treatment cords, and in 2012 there have been five fatalities, year to date. This data confirms that we as an industry are doing what we can to make safer window treatments.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the creation, communication, and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses, including window treatment manufacturers. http://www.ansi.org
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of non-profit consumer organizations that advances the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. http://www.consumerfed.org
The Parents for Window Blind Safety (PFWBS) was created to support parents whose children have been seriously injured or killed by dangerous cords, to educate consumers about the dangers of accessible window covering cords in homes, daycare facilities, and military housing, to help create safer standards in the industry, to encourage innovation of safer products in the industry, and to test window coverings products for safety. PFWBS has become the nation’s foremost advocacy group for the elimination of all window blind cord strangulation dangers. http://parentsforwindowblindsafety.org
The following link is information on what to do regarding corded window treatments in vacation accommodations: http://parentsforwindowblindsafety.org/going-on-vacation-what-do-you-do-about-the-cords/
WCSC has three commitments:
1. Develop stricter product standards (new window treatment fabrication standards should be available within the next 3-4 weeks).
Some of the key revisions are a new requirement for warning labels and continuous loop hold down devices. The new standards require: operational testing, UV stability testing, impact testing, pull out testing, installation instructions, and warnings that address proper mounting of tension devices to the wall or floor. A new requirement for roll up shades is a break away device.
There are also new requirements for wide width lift bands, romand shade cord accessibility, and hazardous loop formation. This logic will now be applied to all products. There is a new section on cord controls to accommodate new innovations. There are now standardized definitions (new glossary of terms and definitions), and a series of training sessions and webinars that will explain the new procedures.
2. Increase public awareness. The average time between product purchases is 5-7 years, and there is a lot of old, hazardous products out there. Adults, not children, buy window coverings. Everyone needs to be aware of the issues and to purchase the appropriate products. Tension devices must be secured to a wall or floor. The WCSC is helping with awareness with their informative website at http://www.windowcoverings.org
. Here you can see a series of videos on safety and design tips, and order retrofit kits.
3. Embrace a retrofit program for consumers that can't afford to replace corded window treatments, or might live in a building that does not allow them to change the window coverings. Retrofit kits allow them to change the window treatment so it is safe for them. There are five different types of kits available: roman shades, roll up shades, horizontal blinds purchased before 1995, horizontal blinds purchased after 1995, and vertical blind and traverse rod draperies. http://www.fulfillmentinnovations.com/v5fmsnet/ordent/OfferList.asp?XPath=*1&xgroup=1&NotMain=0&PmSess1=20
Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) is a network of 946 programs that are recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings. They are trained to look at potentially hazardous window coverings in the home. http://www.casaforchildren.org
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) makes new home owners aware of the potentially hazardous window treatments they inherit when a home is transferred to them. They also connect with day care centers. http://www.ashi.org
All of the larger manufacturers of blinds and shades have child safety information on their web sites. If you take a look at these web sites, you will see that there is an increasing amount of information on child safety.
For those of you in the window treatment industry, the September/October 2012 issue of Vision magazine has a very informative Q&A with the WCMA. http://www.wf-vision.com
There are options for safer window treatments, including, but not limited to: motorization, retractable cords, safety wand controls, cord tethering wand controls, products with no cords, shutters, and roller shades. When you know about the hazard, it should help you eliminate the problem.