Family grieving after 1-yr-old strangles in window blind cord

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PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – Christopher Elkins was playing with his 3-year-old sister on Wednesday inside the family’s home.

“The father went out of the room to switch laundry,” shares Elizabeth Sedgwick, Christopher’s aunt. “And when he came back in, Christopher was hanging from his neck by the cords. In the blind cords.”

Christopher was rushed to Primary Children’s Hospital, and two days later the family said goodbye.

“Your soul just rips in half, my sister is never gonna be the same,” says Sedgwick.

The tragedy isn’t an isolated one.

In 2016, Elsie Mahe – a 3-year-old child, also in Utah County – died after being strangled by window blind cords.

And, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the danger is present across the country with roughly one child, every month, who dies from window cord strangulation. 

“These incidents happen quickly and silently,” according to a CPSC report.

Here are safety recommendations from CPSC:

  • Examine all shades and blinds in the home. CPSC recommends the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product.
  • Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture close to the windows because children can climb on them and gain access to the cords
  • Make loose cords inaccessible.
  • If the window shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, install tension devices to keep the cord taut. 
  • Note: Most window blinds sold prior to November 2000 have inner cords (for raising the slats of the blinds) that can be pulled by a child and form a loop in which the child’s neck can entangle. Consumers should immediately repair these types of blinds. For a free repair kit, call the Window Covering Safety Council at 800-506-4636 or visit windowcoverings.org. Consumers should know that WCSC’s retrofit kits do not address the dangling pull cord hazard associated with many common window blinds.

“Parents with young children should replace their corded window coverings with products that are cordless or have inaccessible cords,” says Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) Executive Director, Peter Rush, in a statement shared with ABC4. “The new Best for Kids™ certification label recently launched makes it easy for parents and caregivers to easily identify which products are best suited for homes with young children.”

The family has a Facebook fundraiser set up here.

If you’d like to donate through America First Credit Union, you can donate to “Christopher Elkins Charitable Account,” with account number 9121559.

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