US Consumer Safety Agency Recalls 5.5M Window Shades

By Mary Ellen Lloyd Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES   The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a wide recall Wednesday of about 5.5 million roll-up and Roman window shades sold by such retailers as IKEA International AS, Williams-Sonoma Inc. (WSM) and Target Corp. (TGT) because of strangulation risks and deaths.   The recalls follow similar recalls earlier this year and last year and are part of the commission’s review of voluntary safety standards for Roman shades and rollup blinds, a commission spokeswoman said.   About once a month, a child in the U.S. dies from a window cord strangulation, said spokeswoman Arlene Flecha.   “These standards at the moment specifically for Roman shades and rollups are not adequate, so that’s something the commission is going to be working on with the industry,” she said. She could not immediately provide further detail.   Of six separate recalls Wednesday, the largest was one urging consumers to stop using 4.2 million roll-up blinds imported by Lewis Hyman Inc. after two infant boys were strangled in the blinds’ lift cord. The shades were sold exclusively at Target stores and on its Web site.   Another 763,000 shades imported from China and sold by Target were recalled because of a risk of strangulation.   The CPSC also recalled 120,000 Roman blinds distributed by Ikea and 85,000 Roman shades sold by Williams-Sonoma’s Pottery Barn Kids after some near strangulations.   The CSPC also recalled some blinds made by Vertical Land Inc. and Virginia Iron and Metal Co.   Target shares were recently up slightly at $46.61. Williams-Sonoma rallied 13% to 17.54 after reporting a surprise profit for the latest quarter and boosting expectations for this quarter.   Representatives of Target, Ikea and Williams-Sonoma couldn’t be reached immediately for comment.   Most window blinds have been redesigned over the years to exclude loops in the pull cords, and the CPSC and window coverings manufacturers have ongoing educational programs to retrofit or remove older blinds. But Roman shades and roll-up blinds have been the focus of the recent recalls. Both Roman shades and roll-up blinds typically have lifting loops that help raise the blind as a cord is pulled. The CPSC’s Web site has warnings specifically about those lifting loops.   -By Mary Ellen Lloyd, Dow Jones Newswires, (Joan E. Solsman contributed to this report.)

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