It is a silent killer that is lurking in so many homes. It’s killed more than 200 children, almost one a month — but many parents don’t recognize the danger.
The consumer protection agency rates window blinds as one of the top five killers in homes. Once children get tangled up in the blinds’ cords, they often die before anyone can help them.
Reece Esleroad should be celebrating his sixth birthday this week, but instead his mother is marking his death with a plea for change.
Reminders of Reece are everywhere in the Esleroad home — on every wall, every picture, and every window.
“Every day, I see him and I hear him and I miss him,” Reece’s mother Heidi said.
Reece was only 12 days away from his fifth birthday when he got tangled up in the window blind cords in his bedroom. Heidi found him just minutes later.
“To find your child in that condition — I cannot get the images out of my mind,” she said.
Reece’s family cannot accept that a little boy so full of life could just be gone.
“One of his teachers said, call I call you Reecie?” Heidi said. “And he looked at her and said, my daddy calls me that, you can call me handsome.”
Heidi talked to her children about safety, and they listened. They plugged electric outlets, put up baby gates — but had never heard of window blinds killing kids.
“He was a little boy, being a little boy, who made a little boy mistake,” Heidi said. “Surely he didn’t deserve to die for it.”
Heidi now works with Parents for Window Blind Safety, a website trying to educate people about the dangers lurking in homes. While she says they’re making progress, it came too late for Reece.
“Check your elementary schools, check your preschools, because you just don’t know,” she said.
In January, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to start the legal process of making an industry standard safe window blind. The industry is fighting back, saying it’s too expensive and most deaths come from older products.
Right now, the division could vote to have a voluntary change for window blind companies, or create a rule forcing them to make safer blinds. Reece’s family hopes his story will help change a law and make homes safer for every kid.