A report which aims to help save children’s lives by highlighting the dangers of looped blind cords and chains is to be released today (July 9).
The 30-page paper, by the four UK Chief Medical Officers and organisations including the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Northern Ireland, Public Health Wales, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) and Children in Wales, highlights the dangers looped blind cords and chains pose to young children.
RoSPA is aware that 28 toddlers have been killed by blind cords and chains in the UK between 1999 and 2014, 15 of which occurred since 2010. The report aims to reach out to parents, grandparents and carers about the risk of fatal accidents and how to prevent them.
It calls for more appropriate data to be recorded into deaths and near misses to better identify the scale of the problem.
The report also revealed that there are still millions of potentially unsafe blinds that were fitted in the UK prior to the introduction of new legislation in 2014. The new legislation requires new blinds to be “safe by design” or be supplied with the appropriate child safety devices installed. The report warns that there needs to be continued public awareness raising to reach those families that may be at risk.
Ita McErlean, RoSPA’s home safety manager for Northern Ireland, said: “This report is an important step forward in raising awareness of the potential dangers of looped blind cords. Anything that can help reach homes that still have blinds with looped cords or without the appropriate safety devices is a move in the right direction.
“Sadly, there have been more blind cord deaths across the UK since the report was published, which goes to show how important it is for us to continue to raise awareness among parents, grandparents and carers to ensure that looped blind cords are kept out of the reach of children. Far too many young lives have already been lost.
“These deaths are devastating for parents and families involved and we must do all we can to prevent more deaths and further suffering.”
The report was commissioned after a group, including the CMOs, public health agencies and RoSPA, was set up in 2013 to look at ways to reduce blind cord injuries and deaths. The report has already proved useful for pushing this issue up the agenda with additional initiatives taking place across the UK since the report was completed.
Dr Michael McBride, CMO for Northern Ireland, said: “The purpose of the report is to help highlight the dangers of looped blind cords and look at ways in which blind cord injuries and deaths can be reduced.
“It can take as little as seconds for a toddler to lose their life after becoming entangled in a window blind cord or chain, but simple steps – such as securing cords and chains with safety devices and keeping furniture away from windows so that children cannot climb on it – can help prevent deaths.
“While the report shows that there has been significant work to address the issue, the fact that there have been further deaths since it was completed means that we must continue to step up our efforts to reduce the risk of unintentional injuries and premature, preventable deaths. There is no room for complacency when it comes to our children’s safety and we can always do more.”
RoSPA worked with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) to strengthen the current European standard relating to looped blind cords, which led to the new legislation being introduced last year.
Nelson Watt, chairman of BBSA’s Child Safety Working Group, said: “The British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) has been pleased to be involved with this report and recognises that the collective work of many stakeholders is vital in raising awareness of blind cord and chain safety. The BBSA will continue to develop its Make it Safe campaign to ensure appropriate messages are communicated regarding child safety and existing window blinds.”
Anyone wanting more information about blind cord safety should visit www.rospa.com/blindcords.