There have been 26 deaths involving blind cords across the UK since 1999, 13 of which have occurred since the start of 2010.
Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority happening at 23 months.
These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled.
In addition, toddlers' windpipes have not yet fully developed and are smaller and less rigid than those of adults and older children. This can result in suffocation in toddlers far more quickly.
Sheila Merrill, public health adviser for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said, "We all have blinds in our homes now. They are much more readily available. This is one of the reasons why there is an increase in blinds deaths.”
RoSPA has been campaigning for improved safety around cords on blinds and have been supplying safety advice leaflets and cleats – a small plastic device that is fitted to the side of the window, for the operating cord to be wrapped around – free of charge.
RoSPA also provides safe steps for parents to make blinds safe:
- Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom;
- Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or high chair near a window;
- Make sure to keep pull cords on curtains and blinds short and out of reach;
- Tie up long cords or use a cleat, cord tidy, a clip or tie that is available.
In addition to a number of deaths linked to blind cords, there have also been many other instances of near misses where parents have managed to remove children who became entangled in pull string bags etc.
On the 25th February this year a young 2 year old boy died after becoming entangled in a blind cord. My thoughts go out to his family at this time.
By Tara Lever