EAST MILLINOCKET (AP) – The parents of a toddler who was strangled three days before Christmas when he accidentally wrapped a Venetian blind’s inner cord around his neck are trying to make something positive of the tragedy.

Roxanne and Howie Noddin hope that the death of their 20-month-old son Jacob will help alert other parents to the dangers that the inner cords can pose to small children.

The safety-minded couple were aware that window blind pull cords posed a threat and had tied them off well out of reach to avert a potentially deadly accident.

But on the afternoon of Dec. 22, Jacob got up from a nap and walked over to the window in his room.

There he pulled on the inner cord of the blind and unknowingly wrapped the loop it made around his neck.

When Howie Noddin checked to see if Jacob was still napping, he found that the child wasn’t breathing.

Neither the father nor local EMTs were able to resuscitate him.

“I had no idea this could happen,” Roxanne Noddin said. “You just assume that it’s safe, but it’s not. I wish someone would have said to me, ‘Roxanne, there’s more than one way to die from these things.’ I wouldn’t have had them in my house for five more minutes.”

Howie has since taken down all the Venetian blinds, and Roxanne has taken it upon herself to spread the word about them to anyone who will listen.

“These blinds are still in people’s homes,” Noddin said. “Parents need to know what they’re up against.”

Since 1991, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 174 reports of child strangulation deaths that involved chains or cords on window coverings; 152 involved the outer pull cord while 22 were linked to the inner cord that runs through the window blind slats.

The sad part is that the parents of victims often think of it as a freak accident, that they’re the only people who have experienced it, according to Linda Kaiser. An advocate in St. Louis, Kaiser lost a daughter to inner cord strangulation in 2002 and subsequently started Parents for Window Blind Safety.

While the grieving is far from over, Roxanne Noddin takes some solace in the idea that she has a new role to play: educator. She plans to visit grocery stores and shopping malls and hand out fliers warning parents of the dangers of corded window coverings.

“At least if people have the information, they can either ignore it or they can do something about it,” Noddin said. “I realize I might not be able to tell the world, but I can start with Maine.”

AP-ES-01-12-04 2017EST



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