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Beyond Babyproofing: The Drape Escape, Kid-Friendly Window Options
your windows to stylish fashions…
with child safety in mind!
Families today have virtually limitless options when it comes to choosing
window coverings and treatments for the home. Thanks to improvements
in the safety, durability and functionality of window covering designs,
now stylish, easy-care looks -- from subtle to dramatic -- can safely
and easily be achieved to suit any home decorating style.
Inexpensive vinyl miniblinds
made before 1996 may pose an unusual but dangerous threat to child
safety. Prior to 1996, some low priced vinyl miniblinds used lead
as a stabilizer to make the slats of the blind more rigid. Over time,
the Sun's UV rays can break down the vinyl, creating a dust on the
surface that contains trace amounts of lead.
After this situation was linked to a child's lead poisoning death
in 1996, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ruled that
imported vinyl miniblinds must be reformulated. Today, tin is the
primary stabilizer used in these blinds.
If your home or apartment has older vinyl miniblinds, you may consider
testing the blinds for lead to ensure a child-safe environment. Lead
safety test kits can be found at most home improvement stores. You
can also learn more about lead safety hazards in the home online at
Window Covering Safety Concerns
Major Industry Changes
Unless you've recently shopped for window treatments, you may not be aware
that the window covering manufacturing industry underwent a safety overhaul
in the mid-1990s. In response to mounting safety concerns that window
covering cords were one of the products most frequently associated with
strangulation deaths in children under 5, manufacturers redesigned products
with improved child safety features -- ranging from safer pull cord systems
to completely cordless styles. They also developed pull cord safety kits
for consumers to use on existing window coverings.
Even with this design overhaul, a child safety concern still existed.
In 1999, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that the inner cords
of horizontal blinds (those that raise the slats of the blinds) could
be pulled out to create a dangerous loop and had been responsible for
16 deaths since 1991! So, again manufacturers refined their designs to
prevent this hazard, and created an easy "cord stop" repair solution for
consumers to fix existing products.
Though window covering pull cords
are a primary child safety risk, other window treatments such as floor-length
drapery, curtain rods, and vertical blinds can pose safety concerns as
well, especially in homes with children under three years old. Rest assured,
there are steps that parents can take to improve the safety of all types
of window coverings, and create easily maintained style! Back to Top
Child Safety Solutions for
Existing Window Coverings
One of the easiest and most effective ways parents can protect children
from window-related hazards is to eliminate a child's access to windows
by keeping cribs, chairs and sofas away from windows and dangling cords.
This also will make life easier since parents won't be constantly fixing
mussed-up blinds! But this is just the first step, children are naturally
curious and surprisingly inventive, so childproofing dangerous window
coverings is a must for a safe family home.
There are several ways parents can
childproof unsafe window coverings (most made before 1995) without running
out to purchase new products. If uncertain about the year window coverings
were manufactured, a quick check will identify existing child safety features
and help determine if simple safety repairs are needed:
the pull cords connect at the end to create a loop? If so, is the plastic
end "tassel" one solid piece, or will it break apart easily, breaking
the cord loop?
(If it separates into two pieces, it probably is a safety tassel)
Can the inner
cord (between the blind slats) be pulled out?
Does the continuous
loop (on some vertical and horizontal blinds) dangle freely?
If you answered
yes to any of these questions, you should consider making a few childproofing
modifications to your window coverings. Below we've listed the most common
child safety issues and sources for free safety repair kits. One solution
or a combination of solutions may apply, depending upon the window covering's
style, use and how accessible it is to young children. Most window covering
retailers provide child safety devices free of charge.
Call The Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636 to find
a retailer near you.
Separate Tassels on pull cords
The tassel is the plastic thimble-like piece at the end of the pull cord,
often it creates a loop of the two or more cords used to raise or lower
the blind. To fix this dangerous loop, lower the blind completely and cut
the pull cord(s) as close to the top of the blind as possible. Remove the
equalizer cleat (which on some styles hold the cords together, creating
another loop) and install one tassel on each cord. And of course, do not
retie the cords as the bottom - that creates a loop!
Get FREE safety tassel kits from:
The Window Covering Safety Council
Break-Away Safety Tassels on pull cords
This repair will cause the pull cord tassel to separate into two pieces
when pressure is applied.
Get FREE Breakaway safety tassel kits from:
Brainer Blinds and the Window
Covering Safety Council
This repair will minimize the danger of inner cords being pulled out from
between the blind slats (pre-1999 designs). The cord stops are installed
onto the cords near the head rail when the blind is completely lowered.
However, when the blind is raised, the cord stops themselves may create
a child-accessible loop, so a cord cleat is a good device to use in conjunction
with cord stops.
Get FREE cord tie-down safety kits from:
Covering Safety Council
Cord cleats allow the cord to be wound safely out of reach near the top
of the blind. This is a great child safety fix, but really should be used
in conjunction with a safety tassel just in case someone is in a hurry
and the cord is not wound up.
Get FREE cord cleat safety kits from: No
Continuous-loop systems are used with various types of blinds and drapes,
and are often seen in floor-length styles. These styles have a control
cord that must be kept in a loop to function correctly. Wall- and floor-mounted
cord tie-downs are available to remedy this child safety hazard.
Get FREE cord tie-down safety kits from: Window
Covering Safety Council Back
What to do About
As any parent knows, just about anything a child can reach has a potential
for danger. Long draperies, curtains and vertical blinds are no exception.
If long window treatments are a fixture in your home, the best child safety
remedy is to ensure that the hanging bars and hardware systems are securely
installed into the wooden studs surrounding the window or door.
Typically, windows and doors are framed
with studs that extend about 4" around the opening. Any rod hardware extending
beyond 4" might be installed only in sheetrock, which is not as secure
- even when sheetrock anchors are used. Stud finders are available at
any hardware store to help identify the stud areas around windows. (The
4" frame rule-of-thumb may not apply to some homes or window designs,
when in doubt it's a good idea to check.) If rods or other hanging hardware
are not secured to studs, consider installing a wooden header bar, which
attaches to the studs and creates a strong wood base for attaching the
Also, avoid using spring-loaded, pressure-mounted
rods with any curtain that a child can reach (remember - they move chairs!).
These can easily be pulled down, possibly injuring the child, and often
have small end caps that are a choking hazard if pulled off the rod.
A temporary safety solution those
with long draperies might consider is to tie drapes up, out-of-reach,
in a decorative swag effect. This can help protect both the drapes and
your child during the toddler years! Back
New Window Coverings that Combine Safety, Functionality
Whether decorating a new home or updating one room, there is a tremendous
variety of child-safe window coverings to choose from -- some even feature
remote-control. Used alone or with any number of window-topping swags,
valances or panels, these new styles will add child-safe, easy-care style
to any home's decor. Coverings parents might consider include:
Pleated and Cellular (Honeycomb)
Available in both cordless and safety cord designs, fabric pleated and
cellular shades come in a variety of colors and styles. Most styles are
stain- and dust-resistant and easily cleaned with a vacuum attachment
or damp cloth. Cellular, or honeycomb, styles also feature energy-efficient
insulating properties and linings that effectively filter or block light.
Look for: Duette Honeycomb by Hunter Douglas,
Lumicel Honeycomb by No Brainer Blinds, Cirrus
Cellular and Pristine Pleated by Levelor, DiamondCell and NeatPleat by
Offering both cordless and safety cord styles, metal miniblinds are still
an inexpensive and durable choice for active families. An added plus,
many of today's styles are made with dent-resistant alloys and dust-repelling
finishes. Look for: LightLines and SoftSuede by Hunter Douglas, Mark 1 by Levelor,
Marquee by No Brainer Blinds
Faux woods blinds truly offer easy-care style for active families. While
mimicking the look of expensive wooden blinds, faux wood blinds work better
in high-traffic and high-humidity areas -- great for kitchens. Faux woods
are easily cleaned with soap and water (don't try this with real wood
blinds!) and feature child-safe cord designs. Look for: WoodMates
and Everwood by Hunter Douglas, Biowood by No Brainer Blinds,
Plantation shutters are a classic window covering style for contemporary,
traditional and country style homes alike. They offer safe, durable and
energy-efficient features perfect for active families. Choose engineered
faux woods and fire-retardant polyvinyls which require little to no maintenance
and can even be cleaned with soap and water. Look for: Palm Beach Shutters by Hunter Douglas, Satinwood by No Brainer Blinds, VinylBilt Shutters
Roman shades add versatility, dimension and charm to any room, and now
they're designed with child safety in mind, featuring bottom-lift and
locked pull cord styles. Available in variety of textures, fabrics and
colors, roman shades add a manageable drapery-like touch to any room --
great for living and family rooms. Look for: Jubilance by Hunter Douglas, Fresco by Graber, Casual Classics by Bali
The tried-and-true roller shade is sometimes all that's needed. Child-safe
in the original styling, spring-tension roller shades remain among the
most durable, kid-smart window covering options. And with today's new
styling, light filtering features and hem decorations, roller shades offer
unexpected looks that fit most budgets. Available in spring-tension and
continuous loop styles. Look for: Remembrance
by Hunter Douglas, Derbyshire by No Brainer Blinds,
Roller Shades by Levelor Back
thanks to No Brainer Blinds for assistance with this article.
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Cypress, Texas 77429
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