Peter Rush Encourages the Department of Defense to Continue to Educate Military Families About Window Covering Safety

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November 4, 2015

Mr. John C. Conger

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment

U.S. Department of Defense

3400 Defense Pentagon, Room 3B856-A

Washington, DC 20301

 

Dear Mr. Conger,

We are writing to inform you about a new program sponsored by the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) designed to educate military families on the strangulation hazards to infants and young children from corded window coverings, and to update you on new developments that will make it easier for military families to identify appropriate window covering products for homes with infants and young children.

As you may recall, you co-signed a letter in April 2013 with then Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chair Inez Tenenbaum to the Department of Defense Housing Partners in an effort to educate authorities on the risks associated with corded window coverings in homes with young children. As you previously have shared with your housing partners, educating military families about window cord safety is a priority because, according to CPSC, a large percentage of military families have children younger than six years of age (37.4 percent).  Further, as parents may be deployed for months at a time, supervision can become challenging.  Due to their temporary nature, military housing and rental facilities near military bases sometimes have corded window coverings and/or older window coverings that are not appropriate for homes with young children.  Military parents and military housing authorities need to be aware that they should replace these window coverings with cordless options or window coverings with inaccessible cords.

For this reason, WCSC is specifically focusing on military families to educate them on the importance of window covering safety.  WCSC has partnered with Scholastic, Inc. on a pilot program to distribute posters and other window covering safety materials to pediatricians practicing close to military installations throughout the country, and encourage doctors to convey this important information to their patients and families. As part of the pilot program, Scholastic, Inc. will distribute 2,000 mailers and mini-posters directly to designated pediatric offices.  I have enclosed sample materials with this letter and I encourage you to distribute these materials through your channels as well.

I also wanted to inform you about a new program launched by the window covering industry to make it easier for parents with young children to identify products that are best suited for use in homes with infants and young children.

The Best for Kids program is the window covering industry’s first, third-party certification program designed to help consumers and retailers identify window covering products that are certified as best suited for use in homes with young children.   For a product to be labeled  manufacturers must submit their window covering products to a  third-party testing laboratory that will certify that the product meets the program criteria and either has no cords or no accessible cords that can form a hazardous loop. Once a product passes the third-party testing, the manufacturer will be allowed to label the product with the Best for Kids certification label. Retailers have made the first Best for Kids certified products available online, with in-store products expected to be on shelves by the end of the 2015.

Finally, we suggest that you encourage DOD Housing Partners to replace old window coverings with cordless options or window coverings with inaccessible cords, and to educate residents about the risks of exposed or dangling cords which can pose a strangulation hazard to infants and young children.  We would be happy to cooperate with you in any way to ensure that this important message is conveyed throughout the military.

We would greatly appreciate your assistance on these initiatives and look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Respectfully yours,

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Peter Rush

Executive Director