Blind cords and child safety: what are the risks?
Shockingly, around two children every year are strangled to death after becoming entangled with a corded blind.
It can take just 15 seconds for a toddler to lose consciousness if a blind cord is caught around their neck – and they can die in just two to three minutes.
Toddlers and young children are at the greatest risk of being killed or injured by window blind pull cords. This is because:
- They may love to climb but not understand they’re at risk of a fall when they climb onto furniture
- If they wobble, they may not have learned how to steady themselves
- Proportionally their heads weigh more than their bodies – and their muscle control isn’t fully developed. This means it’s hard for them to free themselves if they’re caught in a blind cord
- A young child’s windpipe is narrow and soft so they can suffocate very quickly when their necks are constricted.
As children develop, they can climb onto furniture and might be able to reach higher than you might expect.
How to make blind cords safe
- For peace of mind, you might consider buying blinds without cords or chains, particularly for children’s bedrooms
- If you already have blinds with cords in your home, you can check they’re fitted with a tensioner or cleat hook to keep cords out reach. New blinds come with these included
- Cords should be tied so they can’t be reached by children every time you open or close the blinds
- The back of a Roman blind should be connected with a safety device for blind cords that will break under pressure.
It’s a good idea to move cots, beds, highchairs and playpens away from looped blind cords – and if there’s space, try to move other furniture away from them as young children love to climb.
Also be mindful of window blind cord dangers in other places where your children spend time, such as the homes of childminders and grandparents, friends or family.
How to fix blind cords safety devices
- Tidies and tensioners should be firmly fixed to an adjoining surface so the cord or chain are permanently held tight
- Cleats should be positioned out of children’s reach on an adjacent surface, at least 1.5m from the floor
- Cords should be fastened in a figure of eight after every use of the blind, making sure all the spare cord is secured on the cleat.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has created a leaflet which shows how blind cord safety devices should be used and provides further advice.
This film from Make It Safe campaign by the British Blind and Shutter Association shows you how to fit a safety device for your blinds.
Blind cords safety regulations
Standards governing the manufacture, selling and installation of new blinds came into force in 2014, with the aim of reducing child accidents. New blinds all come with a safety device. It is essential this device is fitted.
However, these standards do not apply to blinds purchased and installed prior to 2014, which is why it’s still important to check any blind cords in your home are safe and if necessary purchase and fit a safety device.
Work with families? More blind cord safety tips
You’ll find more to share on how to prevent blind cord tragedy and free resources and downloads by clicking here or on the tabs at the top of the page.