Window Blind Deaths Continue, Safety Fix Arrives Slowly

(WTNH) — Window blind cords are killing kids at an alarming rate and window blind makers have known kids are being strangled by their products for years. So far, their only response has been to issue warnings.

Lilah Kirsch was the love of Shane and Laurissa’s life.

“She was so sweet, so active, she was just, I don’t know. She had just started to talk.”

April 4, 2008, the day after her first birthday, Lilah was put in her crib for a nap, but it would be the last time her family would see her alive.

“You put her down, one minute alive, the next minute she’s not. This is crazy, just like that.”

In this crib her parents would find Lilah with a string from a window blind wrapped around her neck.

“I was giving her CPR. My baby and I’m thinking, thinking this to myself. I almost was certain I wasn’t going to bring her back. You are facing the inevitable feeling of like, you know, please God, please God wake up, this can’t be happening to me.”

Lilah never woke up.

“The Kirsch family is not alone. Since 1998 six Connecticut kids have died from getting caught up in window covering cords across the US the Consumer Product Safety Commission says there is one strangulation every two weeks by these cords.”

In a joint investigation with ABC News and stations across the country, the News 8 Investigators are finding there are big changes coming to the blind industry because of children’s deaths that all have so much in common.

“The police that had come to the house later, I would speak to them later, they would say that this was not the first time they had seen this.”

As of October 1, IKEA announced it would carry only cordless or non-accessible corded blinds. Target did the same. Lowe’s, Home Depot, and WalMart have all promised to stop selling corded blinds by 2018. The head of the CPSC, Elliott Kay says it’s a start.

“I congratulate them on taking the steps that they have, but I’m hoping they’ll push further, and my sense of that is they pick that date because they know that they can make it and they know internally they can do it earlier, and I’m looking for them to actually do it earlier.”

The actions being taken now are coming three decades since the problem was first known. In this 1985 news release, the CPSC lists window covering cords as one of the products most often linked to child strangulation.

Even in the face of calls for change and promises to do away with cords, News 8 staff went shopping for blinds. Our hidden cameras captured the interactions where we were repeatedly told by store employees that there is no danger from corded blinds to children.

The Window Covering Manufacturers Association, a group that represents blind manufacturers, says real safety comes down to educating parents. Blinds come with warning labels to explain the danger.

“I don’t know if all the warning labels in the world are going to stop that from happening.”

While the blind industry and feds spar over what happens and when, The Kirsch family will continue to tell their story and explain why it is so important to change.

“If you have kids in the house, don’t buy them. That’s it. Go cordless. That’s it.”

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