Blind cord choke warning after eleventh child death in two years

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Parents in Nottinghamshire are being warned to take safety measures to protect their children from the risks of being strangled by window blind cords.

Trading Standards Officers from Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards have reissued the warning after an 11th child in the last two years was killed after getting tangled in a window blind cord.

Josh Wakeham of Newport, South Wales was just 22 months old when he was discovered dead in his bedroom on 24 January, the latest in a series of fatal accidents involving children and blind cords.

It is thought that most homes in the UK have one or several blinds fitted with an estimated 200 million currently fitted in homes and offices across the country.

The latest advice to householders provided by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Actions (RoSPA) is:

Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom

Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window

Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach

Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available

Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed

Don’t hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring

Cutting cords is not recommended, even as a short-term solution

The current European standard (EN13120) relating to looped blind cords states that safety devices must be supplied with any blinds sold and be labelled with relevant warnings. New more stringent regulations for manufacturers are likely to be introduced this year.

However it is feared that many blinds currently in use pre-date existing standards or may not have had safety devices properly installed by homeowners.

Councillor Mick Murphy, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “There have been at least 22 children killed in the UK by blind cords since 1999 and it is thought many, many more near misses which have gone unreported. It is a tragedy that so many children have died or been injured in this way and all the more so because it is so avoidable.

“We hope that by raising awareness of this issue we can encourage parents, grandparents and child minders in Nottinghamshire to do a quick audit of their home and make sure any window blind cords are made safe.”

RoSPA is providing cleats free of charge that can be fitted to tie blind cords high up out of the reach of children. You can obtain the free pack from http://www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/blindcords/

Further guidance can be obtained from the British Blind and Shutter association at www.bbsa.org