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RoSPA expands Blind Cord Campaign to Stop Further Deaths

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is expanding its nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of window blind cords with 60,000 free safety packs and the launch of new web pages.

Although RoSPA typically hears of one or two toddlers dying each year after they have become tangled in blind cords, this year the safety charity is aware of at least four deaths. Since 1999, about 15 children have died in this way across the UK and there are likely to have been many more near misses.

The recent rise in accidents has led to the launch of the web pages providing information and advice about the dangers of looped cords in the home. They give people the opportunity to “have their say” on the issue, sign up to support the campaign and register to receive a pack containing safety information and a cleat to enable parents and carers to tie blind cords out of the reach of children.

The story of three-year-old Beth Clifford of Derbyshire, who became tangled in a blind cord earlier this year but was saved by her brother, is told on the website.

Her mother, Tracey, said: “We were incredibly lucky. I just want to make sure that other parents are aware of the dangers of looped blind cords - not everyone is as lucky as we were. We are really pleased to be involved with RoSPA’s campaign and hope that it will reach as many families as possible.”

RoSPA is working closely with the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) which has supplied the 60,000 cleats and also developed a Make it Safe leaflet explaining simple safety measures that can be taken.

As part of the wider campaign, RoSPA and other Make it Safe partners are working with retailers. A recent summit was very successful with several high-street shops proving to be enthusiastic about improving blind and curtain safety.

RoSPA hopes manufacturers and retailers can come to a voluntary agreement that will see an end to looped blind cords. Cordless blinds are already available, as are corded blinds with a chain/cord-break connector, chain/cord tidy or cleat.

The current European standard (EN13120) relating to blinds states that safety devices must be supplied. The standard is currently being revised and its scope broadened. It is hoped the revised standard will take effect from summer 2011.

New agreements and standards will not impact upon the millions of homes with blinds already fitted. Therefore, the Make it Safe campaign is raising awareness of the dangers of looped cords including those on curtains and other household items.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s home safety manager for England, said: “However successful the campaign to toughen standards is, there will still be many homes that have blinds with looped cords already fitted, and it is there that we need to raise awareness of the dangers. We understand that people will not necessarily be able to change all the blinds and curtains in their homes, but there are simple and inexpensive ways of reducing the risks - and that is what the Make it Safe campaign aims to do.”

RoSPA’s advice to families is:

  • Install cordless blinds, particularly in a child’s bedroom, where most deaths have happened
  • 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 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 become tangled in the loop.

RoSPA’s campaign can be found at:
www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/blindcords/

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