December 5, 2016

Window Blind Cord Tragedy in Utah; CPSC Recommends Going Cordless

Elsie Mahe Death, Elsie Mahe Accidental Strangulation_Cordless Window Blinds, Consumer Safety

CPSC Recommends Cordless Window Blinds

The cord that operates window blinds have taken the life of yet another child in this country. At the end of November, three-year old Elsie Mahe’s life was ended short because the majority of window blind manufactures in the U.S. continue to produce products unsafe for children under the age of 10. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report that calculated one child is killed every month from dangerous window blind cords.

“Window covering cord strangulation is a persistent, but hidden danger,” said Kim Dulic of the CPSC. “It is a hidden danger and also a quiet danger. Unconsciousness can happen within 15 seconds and death within two to three minutes.” The CPSC and groups fighting to bring attention and legislation to prevent more child deaths say that there is an easy and universal solution.

Cordless blinds.

As of today three manufacturers are making economical cordless models that take the fatal hazard completely out of play; Target, Ikea, and Select Blinds (who has recently made all of their blinds cordless). Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes each stated that they will have their own versions of safe and affordable cordless blinds on sale by the end of 2018.

Six years ago, Martin O’Malley, one-time democratic presidential hopeful and the Governor of Maryland, signed the Angel Law, which banned all corded window blinds in daycares and foster homes in his state. The Window Covering Safety Council, which represents the window blind manufacturers, recommend ways to outfit current cords to make them less dangerous, but accidents have occurred even when cords have been concealed or raised.

Cut The Cord

Elsie Mahe Death, Elsie Mahe Accidental Strangulation_Cordless Window Blinds, Consumer Safety

One thing that all sides can agree on is for parents and guardians to cut all looped pull cords immediately to create two separate cords. The looped window blind cord has been proven to be the most fatal of all, especially in children around the age of five. But even when cut, injuries have still been reported so, as the CPSC has stated, the only true solution is going cord free.

Elsie Mahe Death, Elsie Mahe Accidental Strangulation_Cordless Window Blinds, Consumer Safety

The Parents for Window Blind Safety (PFWBS), a non-profit formed by two parents who lost their daughter to a window blind cord, began advocating for safer cordless blinds in 2002. The organization worked with the CPSC to uncover nearly 300 deaths and another 300 injuries from strangulation in the U.S. over the past three decades (another 1600 children were treated for “near-strangulation” in the past 20 years). In addition, PFWBS “support parents whose children have been seriously injured or killed by dangerous cords,” offering free legal advice, while working to educate consumers.

Earlier this year Elliot Kaye, the chairman of the CPSC, told the Washington Post that “the biggest holdup is the desire for the industry to make the difficult choice to change.” Kaye went onto say that the fight to increase awareness of these dangers have “been going on for 30 years” and the continued fatalities are due to the inefficient and poorly run “education campaigns.”

Mourning Elsie Mahe

Meanwhile, Elsie is being mourned by her seven siblings and her father, Reno Mahe, a NFL running back who went to school at BYU (where he is now the running back coach), and her mother, Sunny Mahe, a standout volleyball player at BYU. The family made the decision of honoring the three-year-old Elsie by donating her organs to other children. And just last week, doctors announced the successful transplant in at least one surgery.

The Mahe’s Utah community has been showing their support by adorning their Christmas trees with pink ribbons and posting their “Elsie trees” to social media. According to Sunnny, when they first got home from the hospital a group of people were waiting with candles. When the family got out of their car their neighbors began singing hymns in what Sunny referred to as the their “darkest hours.”

“I don’t know if earthly words exist for the overwhelming gratitude we feel for the love and support that has been shown to us,” said Sunny Mahe.

Safety Tips for Children & Children’s Products:

To report a cord related accident with the PFWBS see:

To seek free legal advice from the PFWBS contact them at:

To learn how to retrofit your current blinds see:

To help the Mahe Family with incurred medical expenses: