Toddler’s Death Prompts New Warnings For Window Blind Cords

When we find out we’re having children, we end up doing everything in our power to baby-proof our homes to keep our little ones safe and out of trouble. We pad table corners, deadbolt doors, lock cabinets, plug outlets and put window-blind cords up high out of the reach of little hands. Erica Barnes Thomas did everything she could to keep her two children, Charlie, 6 and Mac, 2, safe. She was vigilant and made certain that all safety precautions were taken, especially when she had roman shades hung in Mac’s room, having them installed with the pull-cord on the opposite side, so it was further away from her son’s bed, as well has having a child-safety release installed on the cord as well.


However, despite all the hyper-vigilance, tragedy struck. On Saturday March 1st, Thomas’ oldest son Charlie, woke up at 6:30 a.m., and went downstairs into the living room to watch cartoons. Mac was still asleep when his mother checked on him, which wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, as Mac would always sleep later than his brother. Thomas busied herself by getting breakfast ready.

The morning was set to be a busy one, as the family was preparing for Thomas’ husband Stephen, a U.S. Army physician to return home from deployment in Jordan. They still had a few last minute errands to run, but by 9 a.m., she decided that it was time to wake up Mac. However, when she walked into his bedroom, she found him lying on the floor, clutching his two favorite stuffed animals. Thomas explains what happened next “I thought he was sleeping, he looked like he was sleeping, but he didn’t get up. I thought ‘Maybe he’s really sick.’ As soon as I touched his cheek, I knew.” Thomas immediately called 911 and began CPR on her son, but it was too late. He had been strangled by a hidden cord that ran behind the window covering.

Mac is one of the four children in the last two months who have died of cord strangulation from pull-cords on window coverings. Nearly 300 deaths have been documented from strangulation in window-blind cords between 1996 and 2012. On average, 1 child a month dies from the cords that are on window treatments, according to Kim Dulic, spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Dulic says, “all cords are bad, whether it’s on the front, back or side. Kids and cords don’t mix – that’s the message the commission wants to get out.”

Many parents already were aware to either cut the cords, tape them out of reach of their children, or tie it. But many parents are not aware that children can also strangle themselves on the cords that run through the blinds or down the back of the blinds. Various consumer and product safety groups have issued warnings and are now asking the government to take action and create mandatory standards for the window covering industries to follow.

Later on, when Thomas entered her son’s bedroom, she noticed a cord hanging from the window-shade. However, the pull-cord was still near the ceiling, out of reach. She believes that Mac must have woken up and climbed onto the only chair that was in his bedroom to look out his window, and must have gotten caught and strangled on the cord that ran behind the blinds.

CPSC acting chairman, Bob Adler offers some advice. “Make sure all loose cords in your home are inaccessible. The commission recommends buying cordless blinds. It is the safest option for your family.”


News updates about Child Safety

Irish Independent
New rules to protect children from blind cords

NEW European guidelines to protect children from window blind cords have been introduced – but campaigners warn that over one million older …
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Mom’s anguish leads to renewed warnings of window blind dangers

He was strangled by a hidden cord that ran behind the blind. … on the cords that run either in back of the blinds or through the blinds to raise them.
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Blind cord safety in spotlight during Family Safety Week

Hilary Johnston, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the PHA, said, “Internal window blind cords and chains can pose a risk to …
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Parents warned of window blind hazards, as new safety standards announced.

deva blinds


THE ISSUE OF window blind cords and the dangers posed by them have been highlighted regularly in recent years. Since 2005, there have been at least five cases where children in Ireland died after becoming entangled in loops or chains.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland has announced three new EU safety measures concerning blinds today, after they were signed off by the European Commission.

Irish standards governing the area were introduced by the agency in 2012, and the NSAI says “it was anticipated that achieving European wide consensus on these standards would take a number of years”.

The EU standards announced today govern areas like ‘fitting requirements’, ‘test methods’ and ‘test methods for safety devices’ (they’re a little complex, and largely concern the production process — but more details are here if you’re interested).

The agency’s also reminding parents of steps they can take to protect their children from the hazards caused  by blinds, namely:

  • Cords should end at least 1.6 metres above the ground so children cannot reach them. Replace cords with curtain or blind wands.
  • Where cords cannot be cut, a tie-down or tension device should be used to pull the cord tight and secure it to the floor or wall.
  • Never place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or high chair near a window or patio door where a child could reach a curtain or blind cord.
  • Keep sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases away from windows to prevent children climbing up and reaching curtain or blind cords.

Vile online trolls target mum over tragic death of little Sophia


Brave Amanda O’Halloran has been subjected to hateful messages from online “trolls” blaming her for the tragic accidental death of her daughter.

The 22-year-old was left heartbroken when her 17-month-old daughter Sophia died after getting her neck tangled up in a window blind cord and strangling herself.

The tot had been playing on her own in the living room for a matter of minutes as Amanda popped upstairs. It took her just seconds to die.

Devastated Amanda went public with her story in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers looped blind cords pose to young children, launching the Sophia’s Cause campaign to prevent further deaths.

This week she admitted that speaking out about her ordeal had its drawbacks. It led to a stream of vile online comments blaming her for the death.

Writing on the Sophia’s Cause Facebook site, Amanda admitted the ill-informed remarks had driven her to the very depths of despair.

But she has vowed not to be beaten by them and said she was more determined than ever to make something positive come out of Sophia’s short life.

She said: “I’ve been criticised a lot about Sophia’s Cause, people telling me that banning blinds with cords is pointless and that it is my fault Sophia died.

“I’ve been blamed and called an unfit parent, neglectful and that people like me should not breed.

“At first it broke me. I slipped into a deep depression and just wanted to be out of this world with my little girl.

“At some point I decided to ignore the trolls.

“I realised that these people were in their few and 95 per cent of people have in fact been very kind and supportive.

“I decided I wanted to make a difference and needed to do something, not just for my own sanity but for my little girl and for every child out there. So I started Sophia’s Cause.”

Through the campaign, Amanda and her partner Chris Parslow want a UK ban on window blind cords. They have already attracting more than 5,000 signatures in support.

Amanda added: “Banning blinds with cords might seem extreme to some but when manufacturers can make safer blinds what is the point in having dangerous blinds?

“I know if blinds with cords eventually get banned that it will take some time for them to be completely obsolete.

“But I will persevere – I won’t stop.

“I will carry on creating awareness and Sophia’s Cause will live on in the memory of my beautiful Sophia.”

To sign Amanda’s petition, go to

Deaths of 4 children in 3 weeks renews call to ban cords on window coverings.

McClatchy Washington Bureau



In the space of 22 days, four children strangled to death after becoming tangled in the cords on window coverings, prompting renewed calls for the federal government to strengthen safety standards.

The deaths of a 6-year-old Maryland girl on Feb. 8, a 3-year-old Texas girl on Feb. 15, a 4-year-old Georgia boy on Feb. 17, and a 2-year-old Maryland boy on March 1 are the most recent tragedies caused by children becoming trapped in loops formed by the cords on window coverings.

The product has caused nearly 300 deaths and serious injuries since 1996, according to statistics compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency.

A child strangles to death on average about once a month.

Despite voluntary industry efforts to make window coverings safer, the rate of deaths and injuries hasn’t dropped significantly in decades.

Consumer groups on Tuesday seized on the most recent losses of life to pressure the Commission to take action.

The groups want the Commission to create mandatory standards for window coverings so that manufacturers could no longer legally produce blinds that pose a strangulation hazard.

“Every day the Commission does not act, children are put at risk,” said Linda Kaiser, founder and president of Parents for Window Blind Safety, in a statement. “Four children dying in three weeks is tragic, unacceptable and preventable.”

Kaiser and her husband Matt formed the nonprofit Parents for Window Blind Safety in 2002, after their daughter, Cheyenne Rose, was strangled to death by a cord.

Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the Commission, said his agency takes such concerns seriously, but officials are not yet at the point of imposing mandatory safety standards on manufacturers.

Instead, the Commission is focused on educating consumers about their choices in the marketplace, and encouraging them to buy window coverings that are cordless, or with inaccessible cords, Wolfson said.

“It is absolutely tragic what has happened in recent weeks in Maryland, Texas and Georgia,” he said. “These are preventable deaths. … We urge all parents and grandparents when they are out shopping for new window blinds to be aware that retailers across the country have cordless options and options with inaccessible cords. These are products that can prevent a hidden hazard in millions of homes. They are becoming more affordable.”

The Window Covering Safety Council also offers three different free repair kits that parents and grandparents can order online, Wolfson said.

“They are a step in the right direction towards a safer blind, but they are not a fool-proof solution,” he said.

Read more here:

Remodeling 101: Simple Roller Blinds by Christine Chang Hanway




My living accommodations in architecture school came with windows, but no window treatments. On a student budget, I did nothing, a solution which suited me just fine—the purist in me strongly believed that windows should be allowed to do their job of letting light in unfettered by the messiness of curtains or the clutter of Venetian blinds. And then one day a friend pointed out that while I may be comfortable exposing myself for the sake of architecture, those with a view into my room at night might not feel the same way. The owner of the local hardware store suggested roller blinds. I installed them myself—my first DIY—and have been committed to their simple effectiveness ever since. Read on to see why roller blinds have been my one and only window treatment everywhere I’ve lived.

What is a roller blind?

A roller blind is comprised of a rectangular swath of material (it can vary from  attached to an aluminum tube and mounted between two brackets. A chain pulley system or a spring mechanism rolls the fabric up or down, depending on where you want it. Automated roller blinds are available, but in my opinion automation seems to unnecessarily complicate things. That said, hanging cords and loops present a bonafide hazard in house’s with young kids; read the New York Times’ report on the subject before selecting the right model for you.

Ikea Enje Roller Blind | Remodelista

Above: The Ikea Enje Roller Blind filters light and reduces glare on computers and televisions; it’s available in a variety of sizes. The Enje Roller Blind UK comes with a pulley cord and is priced at £14 to £22, while the Enje Roller Blind US comes cordless for increased child safety, $17.99 to $34.99.

Why are roller blinds my favorite window treatment?

I like the dimensions of my windows to be fully exposed, and in their open position, roller blinds disappear in a way that curtains, shutters, Venetian blinds, and Roman shades never do. And when I have to lower them, roller blinds have a visual consistency that allows them to become part of the architecture as opposed to an added layer of decoration (though, conversely, curtains can add a grandeur that shades lack. They can also keep out drafts).

Sheer roller Blinds in white living room | Remodelista

Above: Simple roller blinds in a white setting become part of the architecture of a room. In a room with a series of same-sized windows, roller blinds lined up at the same height appeal to those of us who appreciate precision. Image via DBA Blinds.

How much light can roller blinds let in or block out?

Whatever your reasons for needing window shades, there are many fabric options from sheer to opaque to give you the degree of control you’re after. In our house in London, we wanted two extremes: we are inclined to let in as much light in as possible during the day, and yet when we sleep, we want to be able to black out all early morning light. We needed blinds on all our windows because on the street front we have a privacy issue and throughout there’s computer glare. For visual consistency, we chose the same sheer fabric for all our windows, and our solution in the bedrooms was to install a double roller blind with sheer fabric on one roller and a blackout shade on the other.

Double roller blinds | Remodelista

Above: Three double roller blinds are used to cover a wall of windows. During the day, the sheer blinds filter and diffuse the light coming in, while the blackout blinds keep the room dark at night. Image via Ati Shutters and Blinds.

Double roller blind hardware | Remodelista

Above: On a double roller blind, two rollers can accommodate two different fabrics, so you can have sheer and blackout options. Image via Sunlight.

What type of settings do roller blinds work well in?

In their simplicity, roller blinds have a neutral appearance and go with all styles of decor, from traditional to contemporary. They can be mounted a number of ways: in between the window frames (but beware that some light may leak in from the sides), in front of the window frames, or even from the ceiling. The mounting options, of course, depend on your existing conditions. When roller blinds are mounted between the frames, the windows stand out; if they’re mounted in front of the window frames, they typically mask the frames, and a ceiling mount can make a room feel taller.

Sheer roller blinds in traditional window frames | Remodelista

Above: The roller blinds have been mounted to the underside of these traditional wooden window frames and the fabric, when rolled up, sits between the frames as a barely noticeable horizontal line. Image via Solid Frog.

Sheer roller blinds in white diining room, white ceiling pendants | Remodelista

Above: This modern setting has a roller blind that’s been mounted to roll down in front of the window and its frame. Image via Slijkhuis-Interieur.

Are roller blinds easy to clean?

It’s recommended that roller blinds be cleaned once a year, whereas curtains, because they harbor dust mites, require more frequent cleaning—three to four times a year depending on how prone your family is to allergies. Cleaning roller blinds is relatively straightforward and involves removing them from their brackets and rolling them out on the floor to towel them off with a mild cleaning solution. Curtains, on the other hand, need to be dismantled, washed, and pressed, or dry cleaned and then remounted. In my time-pressed schedule, maintaining roller blinds doesn’t fill me with dread the way cleaning curtains does, increasing the likelihood that it may happen.

Cleaning Venetian Blinds | Remodelista

Above: The process of cleaning each individual blade of a Venetian blind rules them out for me. Image via The Blinds Review.

How much do roller blinds cost and where can I get them?

Roller blinds come in a wide range of sizes and prices, from readymade versions you install yourself to designs that are made to measure. At Home Depot, a Bali Cut-to-Size White Light Filtering Vinyl Roller Shade costs 50 cents a square foot, while made-to-measure roller blinds from Levolor, The Shade Store, and Smith+Noble cost around $9 to $15 a square foot, depending on fabric and accessories. The Shade Store offers local certified installers who will come and measure and install at an additional cost; Margot tried this and was happy with the results. Well known brands like Levolor and Hunter Douglas can be ordered online or through window covering specialists in your area. In the Bay Area, Julie uses Burris Window Shades.

Roller Shade Recap


  • Clean look that becomes part of the architecture
  • Tend to be more cost-effective than curtains
  • Easier to clean and maintain than other window treatments


  • Roller blinds with cords present a safety hazard for households with young kids
  • Shades aren’t as effective as curtains at keeping out draughts
  • Roller blinds that are installed in between window frames allow light to seep in in the gap between the blind and the frame
  • Not as formal or elegant as curtains

For more window treatment ideas, see Five Ways to Cover 50 Windows on a Budget. And learn The Secret Ingredient to Make Windows Shine Bright Like a Diamond. Contemplating a remodel? Have a look at all of our Remodeling 101 posts.


5 Useful Tips for Choosing the Right Blinds for Your Conservatory

Your conservatory is designed to let in light. This makes decorating a conservatory quite easy to do. You never have to worry about what goes on the walls or doors.

A conservatory is a great place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s also an ideal place to host a late-night gathering for friends and family. At this point, the windows will be closed with blinds.

Too many homes fail to take into account what the conservatory will look like with blinds. The key to proper interior design is to think about what a room will feel and look like throughout the day and night.

We give you five useful tips for choosing the right blinds for your conservatory.

1. The Practical Side

 Blinds that set of this part of your home are only useful if they’re practical. They aren’t there just to look good. They’re there to have a real practical use.

You need to decide what your conservatory is for. Is it for the children to play in, or a place for you to work in peace?

Additionally, you need to decide how your conservatory faces the rest of the house. Do you want to be able to see everyone in the living room from the conservatory?

Believe it or not, different blind types have different uses. Here are the four main ones:

  • Roller blinds. These offer protection from strong sunlight.
  • Vertical blinds give you better control over the amount of light let in.
  • Pleated blinds are safe for very young children to play with. They don’t have any potential choking hazards.
  • Venetian blinds are at the height of style.

2. Coloring In

The color can make or break a room. You have to decide how much you trust your own interior decorating skills.

One choice is to stick with neutral colors. Whites, beiges, and browns will work with practically any style and any home. They’re quite boring, though. They don’t do much to catch the eyes.

Light pastel colors generally make a room seem bigger than it actually is. They rely mainly on natural light from outside to flourish. If you’re looking for calmness and coolness, opt for pastel blues or greens.

Darker colors work to create a more private and intimate space. It’s why old-fashioned studies opt for dark wooden paneling and heavy red drapes. They make a room cozier and more enclosed.

Some ideas for darker colors include navy blue, dark browns, and rich reds.

Stay away from niche colors like purple. If you ever come to sell your home, you’ll need to have a more neutral color scheme to appear to every eye.

Get some inspiration from the Internet. Social networks like Pinterest have plenty of people showing off their own interior design creations.

3.  The Rest of the Home

 A conservatory’s style should match the style throughout your home. Your conservatory isn’t a separate outbuilding. It’s an extension to your existing home.

It’s all well and good having a modern pair of Venetian blinds. What’s the point of having ultra-modern blinds when your home is decked in original period decorations?

All that will happen is your conservatory will stick out badly. You’ll make your home a confusing and disjointed place to be.

What about if your conservatory is an outbuilding?

Some bigger homes do have a conservatory separated from the home. You can get away with a different style here. It’s easy to pass off this room as some sort of private retreat. Either way, we would still recommend having matching styles.

4. What about the Maintenance?

 In the long-term, your wonderful style could take hours to maintain. A lot of people simply don’t have this amount of time. They need something that’s quick and easy to clean.

Just because you spend long hours out of your home doesn’t mean you can’t have stylish blinds. There are lots of options for people who only spend a limited amount of time in their conservatories.

Vertical blinds, for example, are ideal. They don’t retain as much dust because there are no platforms for it to settle on. A light dusting every so often is the extent of any maintenance.

5. Try and Test

 Fashion changes all the time. What’s at the height of fashion now might be a faux pas in less than a year. Avoid keeping up with the fashions, unless you’re particularly interested in them.

In the meantime, don’t be afraid to try and test different blinds. Pick up a cheap alternative to a desired pair of blinds and see how they work. It’s difficult to imagine what something will look like until you put it up.

Interior decorating doesn’t always have to result in getting the right blinds straight away. Be willing to mix and match your blind choices and see what happens!

Featured Image Creative Commons – Attribution by Ed Bierman

Grieving father makes emotional plea over dangers of cords on blinds



A grieving father has made an emotional plea over the dangers posed by window blind cords following an inquest into the death of his young son. Daniel Grant, from Mayobridge in Co Down, was just a few weeks away from celebrating his third birthday when his neck became entangled in a beaded cord attached to playroom window blinds last February. At an inquest hearing in Armagh city yesterday, coroner Jim Kitson heard how a mere 18-second delay in rescuing a child suspended in similar circumstances could prove fatal. Daniel’s father Brian Grant said parents, grandparents and child-minders all need to check their homes for the treacherous, continuous-loop cords. “Maybe some good will come from this terrible tragedy if little Daniel’s death raises awareness of how dangerous these blind cords are,” he said. “People need to check because things like this can happen in an instant.” Mr Grant was sitting only feet away in an adjacent conservatory, monitoring the playroom through an open door, when Daniel’s sister ran in to tell him of the accident. Both Mr Grant and his wife Paula attempted to resuscitate their much-loved son but he never regained consciousness. Paying tribute to Daniel, Mr Grant said: “Daniel was a very caring, well mannered sort of child. Just a perfect, healthy wee boy. A very happy and very helpful child. “He gave us all so much love and he was everything that we ever wanted in a child.” Giving evidence, Mr Grant recalled how that Saturday afternoon had been “just a normal day,” with one of his four children out playing rugby, and another asleep in his pram, when tragedy struck. “We did our best – myself and Paula – we did our best ,our very best. Everything possible was done to save Daniel,” he said. Thanking Mr Grant for explaining the circumstances, the coroner said: “No father should ever have to give evidence like this.” Paramedic Aidan Andrews to Mr Kitson how “advanced life support” was carried out on the journey from Mayobridge to Daisy Hill hospital in Newry without success. When asked if there was ever any sign that Daniel’s heart might respond to the defibrillator treatment, Mr Andrews said: “No, there was nothing there.” Colin Wallace of accident prevention charity RoSPA gave evidence that 27 children across the UK have died in similar circumstances since 1999, with many more “near misses”. From this month, an EU directive requires new blinds to be manufactured with a “weak link” in the chain to prevent a child becoming suspended. Following Daniel’s death, some of his organs were donated to save the lives of other children.