Window blinds are at the centre of two safety campaigns to raise awareness of the potential dangers to toddlers.
You may think window blinds are innocuous, but tragically six children died in the UK and Ireland last year due to strangulation by hanging cords.
Accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in children’s bedrooms between the ages of 16 months and 36 months. More than half happen at around 23 months.
This is because toddlers are mobile, but their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which can make it harder for them to free themselves if they become caught up. Also, toddlers’ windpipes are less rigid than those of adults and older children, so they may suffocate more quickly.
In America, studies have highlighted the dangers of hidden cords in Venetian and Roman blinds, leading to millions being recalled at the beginning of last year. There has been no similar recall action in the UK, where we have around 300 million blinds in our home and 23 million are sold each year.
This situation has prompted the launch of an awareness campaign by Pat and John Astley, the makers of a gadget called Window Blind Safe, which keeps blind cords safely out of the way of little hands.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of these potential hidden dangers, which include Venetian and Roman blinds where the cords are internal but can be pulled tight to form a loop.
The Astleys are encouraging parents to test whether their blind cords do pose a hazard by developing the following Wrap-A-Round test:
Can you wrap your window blind cord or chain around your hand? If the answer is yes, then the Astley’s warn that the room and blind are unsafe for children.
ROSPA, (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), is also currently campaigning about blind safety and is trying to get manufacturers to voluntarily reduce the risk of looped blind cords by making design modifications.
ROSPA is offering a free Make It Safe window blind pack, which includes a blind cord cleat to tie blinds up, a safety leaflet and a height chart to highlight any potential dangers for your child.
Another way to keep your blinds safe is to purchase one of the Astley’s Window Blind Safe or Venetian Blind Safe gadgets. The Window Blind Safe is a small device, priced from £7.99 plus VAT, that you attach to the wall by the side of your blinds. The gadget winds up the cord and then can’t be unravelled by young children due to a safety lock – and so cleverly takes the cord completely out of sight and reach of little hands.