Preventing window cords from posing a risk to kids

The Challenge 

Hundreds of young children have died from accidentally getting strangled by the pull cords on window shades and blinds. There are now cordless shades and also safety devices for making cords on existing window coverings less risky to children. However, homeowners don’t always install or use the safety devices properly.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) asked Westat to study consumer interaction with these safety devices and consumers’ views of the devices and of the risks posed by cord and loops.

Our Solutions 

  • We explored potential barriers such as risk perceptions, supervision habits, costs, and living conditions to the use of safety devices. The approach included a review of available products, hands-on testing of window coverings, focus group discussions, and task analyses. We included adults without children, parents of young children, older adults, renters, and homeowners.
  • Focus groups were conducted, followed by asking the study participants to evaluate 6 window coverings installed in our User Experience laboratory. Participants installed and/or operated different products, and then described their thoughts. Staff observers were also able to document user errors and problems.

The Results 

  • We will describe our research approach and results in a final report to the CPSC.
  • Our report will include detailed information to help determine potential actions the CPSC can take to improve the installation, use, and maintenance of safety devices for corded window coverings.

Our Client 

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)