On June 16, 2017, the Government of Canada announced its proposal to amend the Corded Window Covering Products Regulations, SOR/2016-172 (the “Regulations”), to include new measures to reduce the risk of child strangulation (the “Proposed Regulations”).
Ordinary household objects can cause serious injuries to children. In particular, corded window covers create a risk of child strangulation. Health Canada states that a child who is tangled in a window covering cord can lose consciousness within 15 seconds. Brain damage begins to occur after about four minutes without oxygen, and death after less than six minutes.
From 1986 to June 2016, there were 69 reports concerning strangulation hazards caused by corded window coverings. Over fifty percent of these reports involved a fatal injury. In 2014, Health Canada completed a risk assessment on corded window coverings to assess the strangulation hazard and found that window coverings with accessible cords continue to present an unreasonable risk of injury or death to young children.
The Proposed Regulations include the following measures to reduce risk:
- Requirement that every part of a corded window covering that is accessible to a child and is small enough to be totally enclosed in a small parts cylinder must be affixed to the corded window covering so that the part does not become detached when subjected to a specific degree of force.
- Requirement that a cord must remain unreachable regardless of the position of the window covering.
- Requirement that every external component of a corded widow covering contain no more than 90 mg/kg of lead.
- Restriction on the length of an accessible cord. For example, a reachable cord with no free end must not measure more than 22 cm in length.
Ultimately, Health Canada encourages Canadians to replace corded window coverings with cordless options, which present a safer option for children. For families that cannot make an immediate switch, we encourage you to review the safety tips provided by Health Canada to help keep your children safe:
- always keep window covering cords out of reach
- follow the manufacturer’s instructions and read all warnings on products
- never place cribs, beds, and playpens near a window where a child could reach a cord
- do not place any pieces of furniture near a window that a child could climb onto to reach a cord
- securely attach tension devices supplied with corded window coverings to the wall so that children cannot place the cord around their neck
- install a cleat or tie-down device up high on the wall and use it to keep cords out of reach
- never tie knots in cords, and immediately untie any knots that form accidentally
- remove any devices that form dangling loops in cords, whether at the bottom, middle, or top of the cords.