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Coroner Andrew Haigh has called for a ban on looped cords for blinds and curtains having held two inquests for two toddlers who died having been caught up in such cords. His call comes almost a year to the day after a Scottish sheriff also called for such a ban following another toddler' death. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) report that between one or two children are killed each year by looped blind cords. Such blind and curtain mechanisms have long been banned in the USA, Australia and Canada, and it's time they were removed from sale in the UK too.
If you have looped curtain or blind cords in your home, make them safe for children. Follow advice from the British Blind and Shutter Association who publish a leaflet on how to make blinds safe. Their advice includes:-
- Ensure that chains and cords aren't within reach of children, especially when they are standing in their cot or on their bed
- Don't put sofa's or other furniture near to such cords that children could climb on
- Make sure cords are secured and out of reach, you can secure cords with cleats, or cord tidies; cord tidies secure to the wall, keeping the cord taut and safe from entanglement
- Ensure that chains have a plastic break connector - a small clip holding two ends of the chain together, these are designed to break under pressure and preventing an accident
If you are fitting new blinds, then look for mechanisms that do not require a looped chain or cord, such as pull wands, spring operated roller blinds, concealed or geared mechanisms with a wand that twists to operate the blind. You may be able to cut looped curtain cord and tie a pull handle to each end, removing the loop which is the main cause of strangulation in young children.
Our houses generally offer a safe environment for young children, but a sales ban on looped cords and chains for blinds and curtains could save one or two little lives every year.