Kids and Cords don’t mix

For more than a decade, Tyler Goodier’s work at Health Canada has focused on the safety of your kids.

As a consumer product safety expert, Tyler works with the manufacturers, retailers and distributors of products such as playpens, toys, car seats and corded window coverings. He has seen the injuries that result from unsafe products, spoken with parents who have lost their children, and worked with industry to make sure Canadians have the information they need to make the best choices for themselves and their families.

When Tyler talks to people about his job, they’re often surprised to hear that corded window coverings are on Health Canada’s radar. Blinds and window coverings that have accessible cords have been on the market for decades and are found in many Canadian homes. While we often don’t give them a second thought, Health Canada has been addressing the hazards associated with corded window coverings since the 1990s. Why? Long accessible blind cords pose a very real strangulation hazard. Over the past 30 years, there has been, on average, just over one death of a child per year in Canada linked to corded window products. This number doesn’t include the many children who have been temporarily or permanently injured from blind cords – the “near-misses” as Tyler calls them – where a parent or caregiver intervened in the nick of time. That’s a scary thought. “One death a year is one death too many, especially when you consider that these deaths are preventable. When you make cords inaccessible, you remove the risk,” says Tyler.

The Consumer Product Safety Directorate at Health Canada and industry have worked together for years to address this risk. At first voluntary standards were developed and later the government made those standards mandatory by including them in Canada’s Corded Window Covering Products Regulations.

“There was just one problem,” says Tyler. “Even when warning labels and safety features such as wall mounts to gather excess blind cords were added to window blinds, the number of children being strangled by cords didn’t go down.”

The data on injuries and deaths was giving a very clear message – there was a need to address the risks associated with corded window coverings in a different way. It is apparent that as long as there are long cords on window coverings that children can see and touch, a hazard exists.

Tyler and his team at Health Canada have been working to understand this problem, study the data, and consider the economic impacts of addressing this risk by making amendments to the Corded Window Covering Products Regulations. The solution: restrict the length of cords and the size of loops that can be created by these cords.

"Health Canada is committed to protecting people from dangerous consumer products. These proposed requirements for corded window coverings will address a persistent risk to children, while still allowing several safe models that are currently on the market to be sold," says Tyler.

Want to find out more about the proposed amendments to the Corded Window Covering Products Regulations? Read about them in Canada Gazette – Part I and share your ideas and comments.