April 2009

Window blind cords to meet new safety rules

The Canadian government has passed new safety regulations on corded window coverings to help prevent strangulation deaths among babies and young children. It is also proposing changes to regulations governing cribs, cradles and bassinets. Health Canada has reports of 28 strangulation deaths and 22 near-fatal incidents linked to window cords since 1986. The new regulations are designed to reduce the strangulation hazard by limiting the use of flexible cord and bead chain loops on window coverings.

Health Canada says in a news release that strangulation has occurred when infants or young children, in cribs or beds situated near windows, have become entangled in the cords of the window covering. Young children may lose their footing and get wrapped in the cords while trying to look out a window or when climbing on furniture. If they fall, the weight of their body can cause the cord to act like a noose, strangling them. The new regulations mean that all window coverings advertised, sold or imported into Canada will now have to meet the specifications of a new, national standard set by the Canadian Standards Association. Flexible loops are to be allowed on pull cords only if they are fitted with devices that either separate the loop upon the application of force, or allow the loop to be held taut once the device is secured to an adjacent surface. Cord-stop mechanisms are required to restrict inner cord loops. Window coverings already installed in homes are not subject to the new regulations. As such, Health Canada is reminding parents and caregivers that to prevent strangulation hazards, blind and curtain pull-cords and bead-chains must always be kept out of the reach of young children, secured taut with a tension device or cut short. In addition, corded window coverings that do not meet the new regulations may not be sold as second-hand items or given away.

Cribs, cradles and bassinets

The government of Canada is also proposing regulatory changes to the Hazardous Products Act to make cribs, cradles and bassinets safer. They would eliminate toeholds from cribs, include bassinets in the regulations and establish the same requirements for portable and standard cribs, among other changes.

Updated April 20, 2009