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Millions of Window Shades, Blinds Recalled

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council have announced a voluntary recall to repair Roman shades and roll-up blinds to prevent the risk of strangulation to young children.

The recall -- the second largest in U.S. history -- involves millions of Roman and roll-up blinds. About five million Roman shades and about three million roll-up blinds are sold each year. More than 50 million Roman shades and roll up blinds that were sold at some of the nation's biggest retailers, such as JC Penney, Walmart and Pottery Barn, are part of this recall.

Consumers are being offered free repair kits.

Blinds recall: Click here for a free repair kit
CPSC Recall Information
Window Covering Safety Council Information

"Early Show" consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen explained, with the repair kit, you'll use a clip to hold up your shades -- not a cord.

Koeppen said an alternative to shades would be using drapes instead of shades. As for the expense of replacing shades, Koeppen said if you are a 50-year-old couple, you really don't have to worry about it unless children come over. However, if you do have children and are worried about the expense, Koeppen said it's important to move cribs, toys and furniture away from the windows so kids can't get access to the shades' cords.

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Koeppen also reported on the Ursprung family's close call with their 18-month-old son Collier who they found screaming, a cord from a Roman shade wrapped around his neck.

Robert said, "He was pulling trying to get free and it was pinching tighter and tighter around his neck."

Susan said, "We had placed those shades next to his crib with no idea they were potentially so dangerous."

Collier survived, but other children haven't been so lucky. According to the CPSC, there have been eight reported deaths involving Roman shades and roll up blinds since 2001, and more than a dozen near strangulations, Koeppen said.

Inez Tenenbaum, the chairman of the CPSC, told CBS News Roman shades' cords that hang down can get wrapped around a child's neck, posing a strangulation hazard.

Tenenbaum said, "We at the CPSC are working with the industry because we do not think the standard of making shades is accurate in terms of safety for children."

In fact, the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) says parents should no longer use these types of shades at all.

Kristen Kurtz, of the WCSC, said, "Bottom line, kids and cords do not mix."

As for the Ursprungs, they say they know how close they came to a tragedy.

Susan said, "We feel very blessed that he's a happy healthy boy and know how different things could have been."

To help prevent child strangulation in window coverings, CPSC and the WCSC urge parents and caregivers to follow these guidelines:

• Examine all shades and blinds in the home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. CPSC and the WCSC recommend the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit.
• 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.

Blinds recall: Click here for a free repair kit, or call (800) 506-4636.