Once they hear that a baby’s on the way, moms- and dads-to-be read all the babyproofing guidelines and buy every product they need to create a safe environment for their future child. Despite all the precautions, however, some families still find themselves facing a tragic situation. That was the case for Erica Barnes Thomas, who, after constant babyproofing, lost her son Mac earlier this month due to strangulation. When the 2-year-old began climbing and grabbing everything in sight, Thomas installed new shades with a chord on the opposite side of her son’s bed. Then, on a typical Saturday morning, she went to wake up Mac. When she walked into the room, she found her son lying on the floor, clutching his two favorite stuffed animals.
“He looked like he was sleeping, but he didn’t get up,” Thomas tells Today.com. “I thought, ‘Maybe he’s really sick.’ As soon as I touched his cheek, I knew.” After the ambulance arrived, Thomas checked on the window cord and saw it was still attached to the ceiling, well out of Mac’s reach. Later, she noticed a tiny handprint on the window and came to the conclusion that Mac had climbed onto the nearby chair to look out the window, and got caught on a hidden cord that ran behind the blinds.
Thomas is not the first parent to experience this tragedy. From 1999 to 2011, 140 children died and 136 were almost strangled on corded window coverings. One of those parents was Linda Kaiser, who lost her 1-year-old even after taking all the proper safety measures. This incident led Kaiser to create Parents for Window Blind Safety, which works to “create safer standards in the industry and to encourage innovation of safer products.” The organization is currently petitioning for more cordless options on the market. While many companies have listened to the concerns and taken action, others are harder to convince.
“People get hung up on the expense and the inconvenience or the aesthetics,” Thomas says. “I get that it’s expensive to replace something that’s already there, but I would hang a garbage bag over my window or I would have nothing there if I could have my son back.”