Ikea has made the decision to remove standard corded mini blinds from its store shelves and online offerings. Target did the same earlier this year. Why would these giant retailers make such a decision? Because the blinds are dangerous for kids. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of one child per month dies as a direct result of mini blinds.
The problem lies in the construction and function of a mini blind. The operational cords — or the ones you use to raise and lower the blinds — are a distinct strangulation hazard. There are products you can purchase to keep those wound up and far out of reach, but the truth is, that's not all you have to worry about.
Unfortunately when my oldest child was a toddler, we learned this truth the hard way. His bedroom featured two sets of mini blinds, and while they were both well away from his bed, he had recently transitioned into a toddler bed, which meant he could get up and wander around as he pleased.
I had taken precautions to make his room as child-safe as possible (including securing the operational cords on his mini blinds), but I didn't know there was a further danger lurking within the blinds themselves until it was almost too late.
One day, as he was napping, I heard a plaintive cry for help coming from his room. When I raced in there, I was shocked to see both of his hands caught up in his mini blinds as he cried in pain. No, it wasn't the dangling operational cords — they were tucked away — but the cords that run through the blinds themselves. He had managed to mess around with the blinds, doing who knows what, until the cords wrapped tightly around his tiny wrists.
I untangled him as swiftly as I could, and although he had ligature marks on his wrists, no skin was broken, and he suffered no permanent injury.
It scared the crap out of me. He was a bright, inquisitive child, well behaved, but like most small children, he loved to explore and experiment with his surroundings. I shudder to think about what would have happened if he had gotten another part of his body entangled in these cords — like his head or his neck. He could have died, and I would have been completely unaware until I walked in to find him already gone.
I'm glad retailers — and parents — are realizing that mini blinds may not be the best choice in homes with small children, but even if you do have them on your windows and think they are safer because you have the operational cord out of reach, keep in mind that the inner cords are a serious danger too. Keep all cribs and beds away from windows, and if you can, replace your mini blinds with cord-free window coverings.
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