A doll is used to demonstrate how monitor cords pose a strangulation danger for babies.

Story highlights

Seven children have died since 2002 after being entangled in baby monitor cords

Government agency, trade group launch campaign to raise awareness of the risks

The key piece of advice is to keep monitors at least 3 feet away from cribs

Couple tell CNN of losing their baby daughter, who had just learned to stand

Washington CNN  — 

Video and audio baby monitors are intended to give parents peace of mind, but the federal government is warning parents that the devices can be deadly if not placed out of reach of small children.

Since 2002, seven children have died and three nearly strangled when they became entangled in the cords of devices intended for their protection.

On Wednesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, an organization representing makers of children’s products, launched a baby safety campaign to alert parents and caregivers about cord strangulation dangers.

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The key message – keep baby monitors at least 3 feet away from cribs.

“Children are curious, they’ll reach out if they can get it within their grasp, and that cord ends up around their neck and strangling them,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said.

For parents Charles Pereira and Lisa Rushton, the warnings come too late. In 2010, their 10-month-old daughter, Savannah, died after becoming wrapped in the cord of her baby monitor.

“Most people buy them thinking that they’re a safety improvement for the child when, in fact, corded monitors present a very real threat to the life of a child,” Pereira told CNN. Getting the word out about the dangers of the cords has been a mission of Pereira and Rushton since their loss.

The couple said Savannah had just learned to pull herself up into the standing position.

“We were so excited about it. And actually I recall saying to him, we’re going to need to take a look at everything and make sure that everything is safe around the house,” Rushton said.

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Wednesday’s warning marks the second time in two years that the CPSC has cautioned parents about cord strangulation dangers. The latest announcement was accompanied by the launch of a national baby safety campaign that includes a website, video and advertising warning of the dangers cords pose. Parents can also obtain free warning labels to attach to baby monitor cords.

Rushton and Pereira were concerned about Savannah’s safety.

“I was very aware of the danger of cords. And it was something I kind of obsessed over – which seems crazy at this point in time,” Rushton said. “Where it was placed at the time, she was unable to reach it. But she reached a milestone just 24 hours before the accident occurred, and we didn’t have an opportunity to reassess the room.”

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Parents wishing to obtain a free warning sticker for their baby monitor cord or more information can visit www.babymonitorsafety.org.