Windows are dangerous for a lot of reasons: You can fall out of them, you can smash your fingers—and you can be strangled by long cord pulls. Toddlers are the key risk group for this last danger, and parents around the world have suffered frightening mishaps thanks to unsafe window treatments. Now, people are sharing their experiences in the hopes that everyone can be aware of this hidden danger.
Gavin Walla, now 17, was nearly strangled to death in a window treatment when he was just 2 years old. The entire thing was inadvertently caught on a horrifying home video that showed his siblings happily playing before panning to Gavin’s seemingly lifeless body, tangled in a window blind.
Though he was safely extricated from the blinds and suffered no lasting effects from the incident, he wants to use this nightmarish home movie to help other parents understand that windows can be extremely dangerous. It is estimated that more than 100 children have died in window blind-related stranglings since Gavin was rescued.
Just last year, a toddler in the UK underwent a similar horror as he was playing in the window. Thankfully, his mother was in the same room and quickly rushed to his aid. The 2-year-old was not seriously injured, but his mother—like Gavin—wants everyone to be aware that it only takes a few seconds for a child to be strangled to death.
Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) took measures to “address strangulation hazards associated with cords on window covering products.” They will include, among other things, specific installation instructions and warnings about the dangers of strangulation.
Retailers are also working to prevent window-related deaths; IKEA and Target have stopped selling blinds with accessible cords. Walmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot have vowed to stop selling dangerous window treatments by 2018.
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You can watch the footage of Gavin’s terrifying experience above. Once you’re done, go check to make sure your own window treatments aren’t a safety hazard. If they are, you can wrap them up and secure them tightly or even replace them.