Video: CPSC: Recall ties up longtime loose ends

  1. Closed captioning of: CPSC: Recall ties up longtime loose ends

    >>> begins now.

    >>> good evening. the federal government reaches about as far into american homes as they possibly could and did it through the windows. they are telling all of us it's for our own good. today they launched one of the largest product recalls in american history . it has to do with window blinds . 50 million different window treatments and the fact they all have cords and the cords can pose a danger to toddlers. it is so big it couldn't help to cause questions about the solution exceeding the size of the problem and the role common sense might have to play in everyday household life. we begin tonight with nbc's tom costello in our washington newsroom. good evening.

    >> reporter: hi, brian. for years the window covering industry and consumer product safety commission issued recall after recall. in just the last four months, 20 recalls, because of a strangulation risk to children. now the agency says it's putting its foot down. it's yet another huge recall. the government wants virtually every roman shade and roll-up blind in homes where children are present returned or fixed. that's 50 million.

    >> we want to make sure children and families are safe.

    >> reporter: it's not a new issue. with today's recall, the cpsc has called back more than 125 million shades and blinds since 2000 . what is the risk with something like this?

    >> this is a roll-up shade. the risk is this cord becomes detached and babies have strangled or nearly strangled in this cord.

    >> this is enough right here to strangle a child?

    >> it is.

    >> reporter: it nearly happened to 18-month-old collier. his parents rushed to the crib after hearing his cries and found the cord cutting into his neck.

    >> opened up the door to find his neck tangled up in the cord from his roman shade. it was in a window not too, too far from his crib.

    >> it was just very, very scary.

    >> reporter: collier, one of 16 children nationwide to nearly strangle in the cord from roman shades and roll-up blinds. eight other children have died. even a typical horizontal blind like this one can pose a hidden danger if the cord comes loose providing enough of a noose to strangle a baby. the fix is to attach a plastic clip up here to prevent the cord from moving. the recall blinds are from some of the biggest retailers in the country, including walmart, pottery barn , jc pennsylvaniay, ikea and target. critics say it's unrealistic to recall 50 million of them. why is this not government overreach?

    >> this is the consumer product safety commission . we protect consumers.

    >> reporter: the cpsc says the industry has not moved soon enough to impose safety. tonight the industry insists it has been working with cspc all along and is offering these free repair kits to anyone who asks for one.

    >> call it the libertarian question, common sense question question that goes to the heart of your question to her. american homes are full of dangerous things. your question about government overreach?

    >> reporter: the cpsc is urging parents to move the cribs and beds away from any window, any blind. it all makes sense and we should be following that.

    >> tom costello, thanks.

    >>> one more recall to tell

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 12/15/2009 7:10:53 PM ET 2009-12-16T00:10:53

Government safety regulators and the window-covering industry have recalled all Roman shades and roll-up blinds in homes with small children. The concern is that a child can easily become entangled in the cords and strangle to death.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Tuesday that about 50 million window coverings need to be repaired to make them safe for kids. About 5million Roman shades and 3 million roll-up blinds are sold each year.

A reported eight children have died and 16 were nearly strangled in window-covering cords since 2001.

Strangulations in Roman shades can occur when a child places his neck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind or when a child wraps the cord around his neck. With roll-up blinds, the hazard occurs when a child's neck becomes entangled in the lifting loop.

"Parents need to understand that these are hidden dangers, that a child can get entangled or strangled on these cords very quickly," said Inez Tenenbaum, the CPSC Chairman. Video: 50 million shades and blinds recalled

Collier Ursprung was 18 months old and supposed to be sleeping in his crib when his parents suddenly heard a scream.

"We scurried across the room to find him standing in his crib with the cord from the shade near his bed wrapped around his neck and he was unable to get out of it, and was struggling and tugging to get out of it," said Collier's father, Dr. Robert Ursprung.

Robert Ursprung, a pediatrician, managed to free his son from the noose, but it was immediately clear they'd had a very close call.

"Then we noticed the ligature marks around his neck from the cord cutting into his skin," Collier's mother, Susan Ursprung recalled.

The CPSC has issued so many recalls for different types of Roman shades and blinds, the agency is now considering new mandatory design standards to keep kids safe.

Some of country's biggest retailers are impacted by this recall, as these blinds and shades are commonly sold at Wal-Mart, Pottery Barn, IKEA and Target.

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Customers that have Roman or roll-up shades in their homes should contact the Window Covering Safety Council immediately at www.windowcoverings.orgor by calling (800) 506-4636 anytime to receive a free repair kit to make the window coverings safe.

In the meantime, the CPSC is urging anyone with young children to remove any blinds or shades that have cords attached. They also advised parents not to place cribs, beds or other furniture close to windows because children can climb on the furniture and reach the cords.

Cordless window coverings are recommended for all homes where children live or visit.

For more information, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Web site by clicking here.

NBC'S Tom Costello contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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