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Window blind strangulation danger prompts recall
Infants at risk, government says; safety kits available
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Millions of horizontal window blinds are being recalled because their pull cords and inner cords can form a loop that strangles infants, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Wednesday.
The CPSC said that since 1991, it has received reports of 130 strangulations involving cords on window blinds. Of that number, 114 strangulations involve the outer pull cords, and 16 involve the inner cords that hold the blind slats.
The victims ranged in age from nine months to 17 months. All the deaths involved children in cribs placed next to windows.
How children become trapped
Window blinds sold since 1995 no longer have pull cords ending in loops. But in a review of window blind deaths begun last year, the CPSC found that children could also become entangled in the inner cords that are used to raise and lower the slats of blinds.
"These entrapments occur when a young child pulls on an inner cord and it forms a loop that the child can hang in," the CPSC said. "In most cases, the outer pull cords were placed out of reach, but the children strangled when they pulled on the inner cords of the blinds."
That's what happened to Hanna Beller, whose 1998 death prompted the new review.
'My husband found her, strangled'
The 16-month-old girl strangled on an inner cord after her parents -- who thought Hanna's room at a vacation rental cottage was childproof -- laid her down in a crib for an afternoon nap.
Hanna's mother remembers seeing a "dark bruise" around the baby's neck. "I knew at that point that she was dead," Elizabeth Beller told CNN.
"She had gotten her fingers in between the slats of the blinds and had pulled out the inside cord," the mother said. "What happened was, she must have been playing with that cord and pulled it out enough to get it around her neck and my husband found her, strangled, in the miniblinds." 175K/16 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The Window Covering Safety Council joined in announcing the recall. The council, an industry group representing manufacturers and retailers, offers a free repair kit for each set of blinds in the home.
For more information, consumers can call a free 24-hour hot line: 1-800-506-4636.
CNN Medical Correspondent Christy Feig contributed to this report.
CNN TRANSCRIPTS (November 1, 2000):
Consumer Products Safety Commission Chair Discusses Recall of Window Blinds Linked to Infant Strangulation Deaths
Federal consumer-product rules giving babies safer lives, agency reports
Consumer Product Safety Commission
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