Aug. 27, 2009 -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled more than 5 million sets of window blinds Wednesday that it says pose a strangulation hazard to children.
The deaths of three children and injuries to seven others have been blamed on the blinds.
The parents of one of those injured children, Robert and Susan Ursprung, said they believe their son Collier, then one and a half years old, could have been among the dead had they not walked in on the accident.
"When we opened the door, you could see him standing in his crib with the cord around his neck -- wrapped around three times," Robert Ursprung said. "As he pulled it kept getting tighter."
He said he immediately freed the child from the window shades.
"We just averted a disaster that could have changed our lives forever," he said.
The cords left ligature marks on Collier's neck, and the experience left the Ursprungs frightened for other parents.
"Those marks around his neck will haunt us for the rest of our lives," Susan Ursprung said. "What could have happened?"
Now, the CPSC has issued voluntary recalls in cooperation with six window blind sellers including IKEA, Pottery Barn and Target, and is vowing tougher design standards to keep problem products off the market in the first place.
"You will see some more action by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission," Inez Tenenbaum, head of the CPSC, told "Good Morning America." "We are heartbroken when we see cases where children die because of lack of product safety."
Strangulation Hazard Window Blinds Recalled
According to the CPSC, there are four main strangulation hazards when children play near blinds.
Roman shades with looped bead chains can be hazardous, as are roll-up blinds with a lifting loop that can slide. Some vertical blinds also have an inner cord that forms a loop when pulled. In addition, children have gotten entangled in the strings on the back sides of Roman shades.
To Tenenbaum, "any loop is the enemy of children."
Manufacturers have come up with two fixes for existing blinds. First, you can operate Roman shades without a string by moving them by hand and using clips to secure them. Second, you can outfit your roll-up blinds with a breakaway device. That way if a significant weight pulls on the cord, it unfastens rather than staying in place.
Partial List of Recalled Products from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Respective Manufacturers:
Name of Products: Horizontal and Vertical Blinds and Cellular Shades
Manufacturer: Vertical Land Inc., of Panama City Beach, Fla.
Sold at: Vertical Land stores in Panama City and Pensacola, Fla., from January 1992 through December 2006 for between $60 and $200 (depending on the size of the blind).
Name of product: 1/4" Oval Roll-up Blinds and Woolrich Roman Shades
Importer: Lewis Hyman Inc., of Carson, Calif.
Sold at: The Roman shades were sold exclusively at Target stores nationwide and on Target.com from March 2006 through December 2008 for between $25 and $43. The roll-up blinds were sold at retail stores nationwide from January 1999 through December 2003 for between $6 and $20.
Name of product: Roman Shades
Distributor: Pottery Barn Kids/Williams-Sonoma, Inc. of San Francisco, Calif.
Sold: Pottery Barn Kids catalog nationwide and through the firm's Web site at www.potterybarnkids.com from January 2003 through May 2007 for between $30 and $60.
Name of product: Roller Shades
Distributor: Lutron Electronics Co. Inc., of Coopersburg, Pa.
Manufacturer: Virginia Iron and Metal Company Inc. (VIMCO), of Ashland, Va.
Sold at: Specialty dealers and Expo Design Centers nationwide from January 2000 through April 2009 for between $200 and $2,000 per shade.
Name of product: Thermal Sailcloth and Matchstick Bamboo Roman Shades
Importer: Victoria Classics of Edison, N.J.
Sold at: Target stores and at Target.com nationwide from September 2008 through June 2009 for between $15 and $40.
Name of product: MELINA Roman Blinds
Distributor: IKEA Home Furnishings, of Conshohocken, Pa.
Sold at: IKEA stores nationwide from August 2006 through June 2008 for between $20 and $40.