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.
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.
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.
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.