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Massive Window Blind Recall Announced

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Washington, DCA recall of near historic proportions comes after the deaths of eight children and the near-strangulation of 16 others. Good Morning America (GMA) on ABC announced this morning a voluntary recall negotiated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in concert with the US window blind industry.

About 50 million sets have been recalled, including practically every Roman and roller shade on the market due to a strangulation hazard involving the control cords. Five children have died and 16 others have been injured after becoming entangled in the cords of Roman blinds. Three children have died from strangulation involving the cords on roll-up blinds.

There are reportedly repair kits that consumers can access. The CPSC also notes that some blinds are designed with cords that will break away when stressed, as when a child becomes entangled. Other blind designs have no cord at all, but operate simply with manual pressure to the blind.

A spokesperson for the CPSC indicated that in the agency's view the products encompassed by the recall should have been safer in the first place and probably should not have been sold, given the entrapment hazard.

GMA noted this morning that numerous retailers are conducting their own recalls in tandem with the CPSC recall. Wal-Mart has issued a recall for more than a million blinds—500,000 Roman shades and another 600,000 roll-up blinds. JC Penny has recalled in excess of 2.2 million Roman shades and the Pottery Barn has pulled back 305,000 Roman shades and about 45,000 roll-up shades.

GMA profiled Robert and Susan Ursprung, whose young toddler became entangled in the cord of a blind near his crib. The couple had grown accustomed to their son's exuberant outbursts. Yet on this occasion, the boy, then a year and a half old, sounded as though he was in distress. Sure enough, when his parents went in to check on him, he had the loop of the blind cord wrapped around his neck three times. As the boy tried to tug himself free, "it kept getting tighter."

The cord left a series of welts on his neck.

The CPSC is recommending that parents use only cordless blinds in any home where there are children present. Meanwhile, the agency says it isn't done yet. "You will see some more action by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission," Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC chairman, told GMA "We are heartbroken when we see cases where children die because of lack of product safety."

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