Two children have died recently from blind-cord accidents. The children were accidentally strangled after becoming entangled in the cords.
Fatalities in other countries have led to the introduction of mandatory standards for window blinds. EU standards now require blinds to be designed so they are "inherently safe". This includes ensuring cords or chains don't form hazardous loops that could strangle a child.
We'd like to see similar requirements here. There are no mandatory safety standards for these products despite injuries and fatalities. Thirteen deaths from blind-cord accidents have been reported between 2002 and 2009.
Research indicates most blind-cord accidents happen in bedrooms and involve children between 16 and 36 months. If you have window blinds in your home, you can minimise the risk of harm to young children by:
- Tying the cords out of reach. The mandatory Australian standard requires that cleat hooks used to secure cords are placed 1.6m above the floor.
- Moving away any furniture children might climb on to reach the blinds. Never put a cot or bed near a window where a child can reach a cord.
If you're buying new blinds, look for products that don't contain cords (for example, wand or spring-operated blinds) or that have concealed cords.