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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is expanding its blind cord safety awareness campaign to five new areas in Scotland thanks to the generous donations of Scottish businesses.

Local authorities and community organisations in West Lothian, the Western Isles, West Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh and East Lothian, supported by RoSPA, will raise awareness of the safety issues surrounding looped blind cords by distributing thousands of “Make it Safe” packs.

More than £3,300 was donated by businesses at the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards gala dinner at the Hilton Glasgow in September 2011. The funds are being split between a road safety project and the Make it Safe initiative, which will benefit a further 12,000 families.

RoSPA is aware of at least 21 children dying in blind cord accidents in the UK since 1999 (with 10 occurring since the beginning of 2010). Suspecting that there could be many more near misses, RoSPA set up a pilot Make it Safe project in North Lanarkshire with financial backing from the Scottish Government’s Community Safety unit followed by projects in South Lanarkshire, Fife, East Dunbartonshire and the Borders.

A total of 15,000 Make it Safe packs including a cleat - a small plastic device that is fitted to the side of the window for the operating cord to be wrapped around - as well as a leaflet providing parents and carers with safety tips have been distributed so far.

RoSPA’s research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in a bedroom and occur in children aged between 16 months and 36 months. Julia Rolinson, RoSPA events manager, said: “It is fantastic that the overwhelming generosity shown by Scottish businesses during our charity collection at our RoSPA Awards gala dinner is being used to help improve the safety of families across Scotland.”

Jennifer Henderson, RoSPA Scotland’s home safety officer, said: “We’re delighted that a further 12,000 families can benefit from the Make it Safe initiative thanks to the generous support of Scottish businesses.”

RoSPA advises people buying new blinds to look for a design that doesn’t have cords or chains, particularly for a child’s bedroom. It also advises parents and carers not to put a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window. Where there are blinds with cords or chains in the house, RoSPA advises that cords are kept tied up and out of the reach of young children using a cleat, cord tidy, clip or tie.

Full details about the dangers of looped blind cords and corresponding safety advice can be found at www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/blindcords/. The Make it Safe leaflet is available online at www.rospa.com/HomeSafety/Info/blind-cord-safety.pdf. The leaflet was produced by the British Blind and Shutter Association, with which RoSPA is working on a wider blind cord safety campaign.

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