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This letter is to advise you of a safety hazard that may exist in retail stores, restaurants, hotels and similar establishments. Corded window coverings such as blinds, shades, and curtains pose a strangulation hazard to young children if the cords and bead chains are not kept taut or out of reach.
Health Canada helps protect the Canadian public by collaborating in the management of health and safety hazards associated with consumer products, including corded window coverings.
The department has learned of a recent nearmiss incident in a retail store, where window covering bead chain loops were left dangling. A child climbed onto a window ledge, inserted their head into a loop, and then lost their footing. As a result, the child hung by the neck and their breathing was compromised before the caregiver could intervene. The department is also aware of 27 strangulation deaths and 22 additional near-miss incidents to children aged ten months to four years, since 1986, with 5 of the deaths having occurred in the last five years.
Establishments are therefore encouraged to eliminate long dangling cords and flexible bead chain loops on window coverings installed in establishments where young children may be present. The enclosed pamphlet describes how this may be accomplished. You may also wish to consider cordless window coverings for future installations.
Some older horizontal blinds have looped cords, which should be cut as short as possible, and the remaining cords kept out of reach of children. Non-looped cords should also be cut short and kept out of the reach of children, keeping in mind that children may climb onto nearby ledges or furniture. Looped bead chains should never be left dangling, and should be secured to an adjacent surface with a tension device.
Additional safety information, including a demonstration video, poster, and a static window cling reminder, is available to order free of charge on the Health Canada Web Site: www.healthcanada.gc.ca/blindcords.
For more information, you may also contact your nearest Consumer Product Safety Office, using the list below.