Are your blinds child safe? Have you even thought about this? About 2 children die each year after becoming trapped in blind cords and there are probably many more near misses. The stories are truly harrowing. Some of these stories are on the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) website. CAPT says that it can “take just 15 seconds for a toddler to lose consciousness if a blind cord is caught around their neck – and they can die in just two to three minutes”.
CAPT are part of a joint campaign on blind safety with the Government Office of Product Safety and Standards, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, and the British Blind and Shutter Association, launched in February 2021
How do accidents happen?
Blind cords can become wrapped around a child’s neck while they play with loose chains and cords within their reach. This is either from ground level or by climbing on furniture to reach them. It’s not just playing with the cords. Small children are not always the most steady and so may get caught in them when they fall.
Small children’s heads weigh proportionately more than their bodies and their muscular control is not yet fully developed. This means it is hard for them to free themselves if they become entangled. Small children’s windpipes are also not fully developed . As a result suffocation occurs far more quickly. (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa)).
Silent and deadly. Strangulation by looped cords can happen quickly before we know it’s even happening.
It’s not just the looped cords and chains at the side of blinds. The Blind and Shutter Association draw our attention to other hazards. These are cords at the back of Roman blinds as well as cords forming a loop when pulled through Venetian blinds.
Where do accidents happen?
Our research has shown that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children aged between 16 months and 36 months, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months.
How to prevent accidents
- Move furniture. If you can move furniture, especially cots, beds, highchairs and playpens away from looped blind cords – and if there’s space, try to move other furniture away from blinds.
- Installed blinds. Already have blinds with cords in your home? Check they’re fitted with a tensioner or cleat hook to keep cords out reach? The British Blind and Shutter Association’s videos demonstrate available safety devices and fittings.
- Tie cords. Keep tied cords well out of reach of children every time you open or close the blinds
- Roman blinds. Connect the blind cords with a safety device that breaks under pressure.
- Go cord free. Buying blinds without cords or chains, particularly for children’s bedrooms. There are many child safe options on the market for every blind style. These include blind operating systems designed without cords and chains. Spring assisted operation, wands operative vertical and venetian blinds and motorised operation with some linking to smartphones are just some options. Information on these is available from The Blind and Shutter Association.
- Professional installation. A professional installer must install the safety features and explain their use.
- Home installation. Since changes to standards for blinds in 2014, all blinds are now sold with safety devices. You must install these.
This article is part of Roseroft Health & Safety’s Health & Safety in the home for families with babies and small children campaign. Read more about this campaign or follow us on social media for videos, tips and more. Facebook. Instagram. Tiktok.