The global spotlight is being turned towards blind cord safety, as RoSPA and other organisations across the world join to highlight the potentially deadly danger posed to children in our own homes.
The family safety charity is supporting this year’s OECD Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Window Covering Cords – also known as blind cords.
Since 1999 there have been 28 confirmed child deaths linked to looped blind cords across the UK, and RoSPA is all too aware of the devastation they can cause.
In October 2010, 17-month-old Leah Edwards died after she became entangled in a looped blind cord. Since then, her family has been campaigning tirelessly to raise awareness, including via a Your Stories blog on RoSPA’s website.
Her mother Joy said: “We never thought that the blind in Leah’s bedroom could be deadly – it is so important that parents are made aware of the risks. It is hard to talk about losing our beloved daughter, but if it saves at least one life then it is more than worth it.
“I would urge people to ensure that blind cords are tied up and out of the reach of young children – there are a variety of safety devices available that are inexpensive and easy to install.”
In May, Northern Ireland’s coroner Joseph McCrisken also urged parents to take action after the death of a two-year-old boy, describing looped blind cords as “lethal and silent killers”.
Strangulation, which happens quickly and silently, occurs most often in children’s bedrooms and living rooms, but can happen anywhere there is an unsafe blind cord.
Huge steps have been made through initiatives such as the Make It Safe campaign, of which RoSPA is a part, working with the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) and others. This has resulted in changes to standards improving the safety of newer blinds. In the past year, Ikea has also halted the sale of blinds with unsafe cords.
But millions of homes still have older, dangerous blinds that have no safety devices fitted.
Ashley Martin, RoSPA’s public health project manager, said: “We’re pleased to support this week’s OECD campaign, and hope that it contributes to saving lives in this country and around the world.
“Our advice to families is to check all the cords currently in your home – tie up cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available. Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and out of reach.
“Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom, and make sure to place children’s cots, beds, playpens and highchairs away from windows.”
Andrew Chalk, director of operations for the BBSA, said:
“The BBSA fully supports the OECD initiative and the simple but vital safety messages it promotes.
“The BBSA established the Make It Safe campaign in 2009 to drive improvements in the safety of internal blinds and promote their safe use. All new blinds must comply with child safety standards introduced in 2014 but making existing blinds safer is quick and simple too – the Make It Safe website (www.makeitsafe.org.uk) has videos which show how.”
RoSPA is the UK’s flagbearer for the OECD campaign, which can be followed with the hashtags #SafeWindowCoverings and #SafeCurtains. More information on RoSPA’s campaign can been found here.