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Council warns of dangers of blind cords this Child Safety Week

31 May 2019

Mid Ulster District Council is reminding residents of the dangers of blind cords during this year’s Child Safety Week which takes place next week, 3-9 June.

There have been at least 33 accidental deaths across the UK due to looped cords since 1999 (18 of which have occurred since the start of 2010), however, these accidents are preventable. 

Children can become entangled on hanging cords when playing, climbing or exploring near window blinds. It can take less than a minute for a child to lose their life on one window cord. The Child Accident Prevention Trust estimates it can take just 15 seconds for a toddler to lose consciousness and death can occur in just 2 or 3 minutes.

In 2014 stringent new standards governing the manufacture, supply and installation of new internal window blinds came into effect with the aim of reducing child accidents. These changes place an obligation on all in the industry to supply and install compliant products.

As a result, all blinds placed on the market now have to display warning labels placed on the front of blinds as well as on packaging. They must include safety instructions, as well as safety devices to ensure blind cords are kept out of the reach of young children. The Standard also imposes a maximum cord and chain length where there is a likelihood of young children 0-42 months present, which includes in homes and public places like hotels, hospitals, schools, shops, places of worship and nurseries.

In order to reduce the risk of strangulation and asphyxiation, internal window blinds (and corded window coverings) shall be of an inherently safe design- often called Safe by Design. Where window blinds installed require safety devices - either integral (built in) or non-integral (require separate fitting) installers must advise the customer and agree how and where such devices will be used/fitted.

The Council’s Home Safety Officers are also on hand to highlight the dangers associated with blind cords. Free home safety visits which focus on providing practical advice and information to reduce the risk of accidents in the home are available to those over 65, families with children under 5 and vulnerable adults or children. New parents can collect information on blind cord safety from the Registrar when they register the birth of their baby.

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Martin Kearney, is urging residents to take the relevant safety steps to avoid accidents occurring. He said: “It can take as little as seconds for a toddler to lose their life after becoming entangled in a window blind cord or chain. Simple steps – such as securing cords and chains with safety devices and keeping furniture away from windows so that children cannot climb on them – can help prevent deaths. It is important that parents, relatives and carers check their homes and proactively take steps to make sure that children are kept safe.”

You can view the blind cord safety video and find out what blind cord safety options are available at: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/blind-cord-safety.

Consumers who are concerned can in the first instance find advice from the British Blind and Shutter Associations (BBSA): https://bbsa.org.uk/home-owner/child-safety.

Further information and advice is available from Council’s Environmental Health Service. Telephone: 03000 132 132 or email: environmentalhealth@midulstercouncil.org.

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