The dangers associated with blind cords are being highlighted in a video being launched today [Tuesday 6 December] by the Public Health Agency (PHA), in association with local councils in Northern Ireland, to encourage everyone to make their home blind cord safe.
Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, said: “Home accidents can easily be prevented by being aware of the dangers and hazards that are present in the home environment and putting in place interventions to minimise the risks.
“Internal window blinds can pose a big risk to children between the ages of 16 months and 36 months. In Northern Ireland there have been three blind cord deaths in the past three years and at least 31 children have died in the UK since 1999.
“The video aims to highlight the dangers of looped blind cords and look at ways in which blind cord injuries and deaths can be reduced.
“We would say to all adults, go around your home and:
- examine every blind. If they have a looped control chain or cord and do not have a safety device fitted, then you can easily install one of the many devices available;
- ensure that all operating blind cords and chains cannot be reached by children;
- move cots, beds and any furniture away from windows and blinds – remember children love to climb;
- when buying a new blind, always look for one that does not contain cords, has concealed cords or has an in-built safety device and that complies with the new European Standards.”
Dr McBride continued: "New blinds are covered by improved European safety legislation that came into force in 2014, meaning they have been rigorously tested and if appropriate would have a chain break connector where the chain will break if any pressure is applied. However many homes have blinds fitted before this so it is important to check them all.”
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement with the PHA, said: “It is impossible to watch over our children 24 hours a day, so it is essential that we take time to make the home environment as safe as possible.
“As the video highlights, 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.
“Don’t leave it until it is too late – taking simple steps to make our homes safer for children is the best way to help prevent accidents,” concluded Mary.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Trevor Wilson, said: “This Council is delighted to be working in partnership with the Public Health Agency to highlight and draw attention to the important issue of blind cord safety. We need to do all we can to prevent the death of any more young children by blind cord entanglement so this video, while hard-hitting, is definitely an excellent tool for showing parents and guardians just how quickly an accident can happen. Looped blind cords need to be kept out of the reach of children.”
To view the video visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/blind-cord-safety
For further advice on how to make your home blind cord safe, contact the home safety officer at your local council or your health visitor.