Window Blinds Deadly Delay: The Fight for Kids Safety

Hundreds of kids injured, killed in strangulation incidents in past 30 years.
7:51 | 11/07/15

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Transcript for Window Blinds Deadly Delay: The Fight for Kids Safety
Tonight a home video of a toddler's near-death experience being used for good. Against a silent hazard in many of our homes. Hundreds have been killed or injured by window blinds with potentially dangerous cords. Why are they still being sold? Here's ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. Stand up straight, shoulders down. Reporter: This is the wall family of chippewa falls, Wisconsin. All nine of them. They love to make videos of everything they do. Hi! Interior interior. Reporter: For 17-year-old gaffe advice there's one video that stands out when he was a toddler. Gaffe advice's mother Nicky was making a video of two of her other children, her twins. The joyful moment is about to end. As she is distracted by a phone off the hook. And will swing the camera around, catching the horrifying image of Gavin that we're going to show only because it has a happy ending. Gavin, Gavin! Reporter: Gavin hanging by the neck from the pull cords on a set of window blinds. He choked himself! He's blue! Gavin! Reporter: Then the sweetest sounds Gavin's parents had ever heard -- he was alive. He's crying, he's making noises. Can he breathe? Reporter: Gavin was left with a welt across his neck but that was all. And fortunately he doesn't really remember it. And it doesn't seem to have caused any permanent damage. Reporter: But unfortunately, since the day of Gavin's accident, some 13 years ago, the consumer products safety commission estimates well over 100 American children have died, somehow caught in window blind cords. Brian, I see decades, I'm talking decades, about children once a month getting hanged to death by these products. And it's got to stop. These are many different types of samples -- Reporter: Elliot Kaye, consumer product safety commission, says he's made the elimination of window blinds with cords after a 30-year period in which both the industry and his own agency have failed to do so. Kaye says cordless versions like this set solve the problem. It's beautiful. Reporter: Kaye's agency doesn't have the legal authority to outright ban the corded versions. And he says the industry continues to drag its feet. I think it's disgusting, I really do. Reporter: Most of the blinds sold in this country come from three major manufacturers. Springs, hunter Douglas, and Newell rubber maid. None of their executives would agree to appear in our report. Nor would the head of the window blind trade group, Ralph vesami, outside his office in New York City. I wanted to ask questions about the children who have died in the window blind accidents. Can you talk about that at all? No. Reporter: Under oath in a brain injury lawsuit last year against a window mind company, vesami could not avoid answer questions. By making the decision to not eliminate those hazards, implicitly they're making the decision to allow children to continue to be exposed to those hazards, correct? Yes. Reporter: The lawyer asking the questions, Jim Ander, has brought more than 50 death and injury lawsuits in window mind cases. How many have gone to trial? None. They've all settled. Why? The documents and the testimony is too condemning. I don't think a manufacturer can afford to go to trial. Reporter: The industry disputes the safety commission's accident Numbers and has produced videos to show a range of safety features that it says have substantially cut the death rate, including breakaway cords and methods to keep cords out of a child's reach. There is no need to ban window blinds with cords, the industry maintains. For the 90% of American consumers who don't have small children, the corded option may make some sense. Reporter: Nancy nord is a former member of the consumer product safety commission who industry lobbyists arranged to talk with us. You can't have an environment, one where all risk has been eliminated. That just is a naive thing to want. Reporter: The parents of 2-year-old Matt Thomas strongly disagree. Would you like more? Reporter: Erika and Steven Thomas of suburban Washington, D.C. Initially came under investigation after their son died. Even though they had done everything they could think of to make their home safe. I did everything that I knew to do to keep my child safe. And my son is gone. Reporter: Mack's mother found him one morning lifeless on the floor, strangled when he got caught in the blind cord. She thinks he tried to look out his window at the stars that he and his brother loved so much. He wouldn't wake up. And I was screaming. I was just screaming. Then I ran out of the house with him. And I just sat. I sat on the front lawn in the mud. Reporter: Parents are often the first ones blamed, says Linda Kaiser of St. Louis. In the wake of the death of her daughter in a window blind cord accident, she also came under police investigation, leading her to set up a foundation called parents for window mind safety, to help expose the problem. When I understood, okay, police officers don't get it. All these people in the nation don't get it. That made me want to fight. For educating people. Reporter: The industry says it too is trying to educate the public about the hazards. Many new parents may be unaware of potential cord dangers -- Reporter: Including a new best for kids campaign. Yet working with our ABC affiliates across the country, we found that message is not getting through, or being acted on, in many places. Is there a safety issue or anything like that? No, I don't think so. Reporter: ABC reporters went to major stores, asking about minds for children's rooms, and found a confusing array of options. Often not clearly labeled. In some cases, store employees were helpful. That's why cordless is a really good option when you have tots. Reporter: In many others, employees seemed to have no idea or had not been trained about the danger. When you have the cord, you could just tie it. Tie it up. Is there a safety issue? No, not really. Reporter: And our affiliate reporters also discovered that a safety warning is posted on both the corded or hazardous blinds and on the cordless blinds, which don't pose the same threat. What's the impact when they put a warning label on something that is the same? Sheer confusion. Reporter: The last few weeks the campaign on the window blind industry has had victories. IKEA and target have taken window blinds with cords off their shelves. They now only sell cordless blinds. We were eager to do whatever we could to increase the safety of our productions. Reporter: Since we began our reporting on the issue, home Depot, Walmart, and Lowe's have now announced they too will stop carrying window blinds with cords. But not until the end of 2018, three years away. I'm thinking of not if another child is going to die but when. And I see another mother sitting in the mud. Holding her lifeless child. Reporter: For "Nightline," Brian Ross, ABC news, New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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