Roman shades are a very widely used decorative window treatment for many reasons and they are a favorite of the DIY’er. They are amongst the most versatile of all window coverings. They are relatively simple to fabricate. While beautiful in their own right, they are even more attractive when energy conservation and dollar savings are considered. Yet they are part of the family of window coverings that most commonly relies on cords for positioning. And cords can be a threat to the safety of children. This does not have to be the case.
Old fashion lift cords have been implicated in far too many accidents involving children. Many of these accidents have resulted in permanent injuries and even deaths. It took the initiative of private groups to raise this issue and the industry has responded. Many national brands of custom and even ready-made blinds and shades have changed their lifting mechanism to safer alternatives. Included are motorized, loop-lift, and spring activated systems. These are certainly safer than their predecessors. Yet these alternatives are generally not cost-effectively available to the DIY’er.
The DIY’er must, to the extent reasonable, take safety into consideration. Let’s examine the risks and some ways to avoid them. The greatest risk to young children comes from the “looping” of cords. Loops that little hands can grab are formed in the draw or pull cords as they hang to the side of the window treatment. In older designs, the several lift cords are carried through to become the pull cords. By various means but most commonly by knotting them together, they are combined to form a pull cord. The several cords thus coming together form loops.
In the case of many window treatments, including roman shades, the lift cords behind the shade also form loops that are accessible to little hands and necks.
When shades are raised, excess pull cord, even a single cord, can be fashioned into a loop by a playful child.
The DIY’er can craft a safe product if they consider these issues. For example, it is generally accepted that a loop needs to be greater than 16″ in diameter to allow a small head to get into trouble. Means of restricting the loop sizes, such as the use and proper placement of safety shroud loop cords which make it nearly impossible for a child to grab the cords and form a 16″ loop, are a great step forward. The reduction of the multiple lift cords to a single pull cord through the use of a cord-condenser or similar technique, can avoid the presence of dangling loops. Cord cleats, placed out of the reach of children, can keep the pull cords away from prying hands. Other important factors include the placement of cords behind the shades in locations that would be difficult for children to access as well as consideration of means, such as weighting the shade, that will keep the cords taut when the shade is down.
Of immense importance to the DIY’er is that contemporary roman shade components are readily available to assist with the fabrication of a safe window covering. When properly used, roman shade safety components and design elements can protect our children at little or no additional cost.