Two decades ago, a young grieving mother walked into OnderLaw and forever changed all of our lives. Today, 21 years after that mother began her fight to save other children from the dangers of window covering cords, together we’ve made a difference.
This week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve a new federal safety standard requiring custom window coverings to be cordless. This regulation was added in addition to regulations enacted in 2019 that require standard blinds and shades to be cordless.
This measure will save the lives of countless children who would otherwise die or be seriously (and often permanently) injured in strangulation accidents involving window blind cords.
“We realized that, not only could we win lawsuits, but we could affect change that truly made a positive difference in people’s lives. We began to see that, when we stood together, we could change the way corporations do business.”
We are over-the-moon proud to have worked with Parents for Window Blind Safety, and in particular, Matt and Linda Kaiser, whose strength and passion have been the driving force behind these new regulations.
When we first met, Matt and Linda were consumed with grief after losing their 12-month-old daughter, Cheyenne, in a window blind cord accident. The parents had laid Cheyenne down for a nap when she made her way to the room’s window blinds and managed to become caught in the inner cord. The horrific accident happened in not much more than the blink of an eye.
In a statement to the press, Linda said, “I applaud the U.S. CPSC for their unanimous vote. I look forward to seeing what this powerhouse commission will do for the future of safety. I could not have done this without the help of attorney Jim Onder, who has been a support for 20 years.
“His belief in my passion when it seemed no one else did, his philanthropy and his constant guidence and encouragement anytime I needed it has been what I needed to see this through over the past 20 years. He is a one in a million attorney who truly believed in our cause.”
We held the blind manufacturer, distributor, and retailer accountable for the Cheyenne’s death, but unfortunately, more parents began to come forward.
There is a lot of shame and undue blame associated with losing a child in an accident at home. After talking to so many of these parents, it became clear early on that they weren’t at fault; their only mistake was trusting in a product that was purported to be safe. In many cases, deadly cords were hidden inside window coverings, giving parents a false sense of security. Regardless of the mechanism, no one can watch their child every moment of the day, and both international and external cords posed risks to toddlers and young children that no parent could foresee.
It also became clear that the corporations and industry that benefited from the sale of window blinds counted on the shame and blame these parents faced to keep them from being held fully accountable.
For us, this fight was the first of many in which we realized that, not only could we win lawsuits, but we could affect change that truly made a positive difference in people’s lives. We began to see that, when we stood together, we could change the way corporations do business.
Eventually, warning labels were added to blinds and other corded window coverings—some with hidden cords that gave parents a false sense of security. Then, in 2019, after dozens of other grieving parents came forward and joined us in holding the window blind industry accountable, it finally responded by agreeing to regulate standard window coverings.
Though pre-packaged blinds would be cordless—and undoubtedly save countless lives—custom blinds were still a problem.
This week, that changed.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) created new federal safety standard for operating cords on custom window coverings, including shades, blinds, curtains, drapery and other cord-operated products. The Commission also approved a new federal safety rule that adds non-compliant products to CPSC’s substantial product hazard list.
On average, according to CPSC’s latest statistics, about nine children under 5 years of age die every year from strangling in window blinds, shades, draperies and other window coverings with cords. Though this is substantially fewer deaths than when we started 20 years ago, we feel strongly that one death is too many.
This latest development is the culmination of a long, hard fight that fought by a lot of dedicated people, and it’s a huge win for OnderLaw, as well as for parents, children, and families across the country.
For years, we’ve been saying that together, we’re making a difference. We really are. When we stand with each other, we are a mighty force. We’re changing the way corporations do business.
For more information, visit www.parentsforwindowblindsafety.org.