Last year I was asked to spend the Mother’s Day weekend with my son, his partner and their new baby who was 18 months old at the time.
The little fellow was on the move, crawling and exploring as best he could.
In this home they have very high bi-fold doors that open from the kitchen/dining area to the back patio.
You know the type of picture I’m creating, perfect for entertaining. On these bi-fold doors are blinds that have the long cords down the side to operate them. My son’s partner mentioned that in her mother’s group they were discussing the dangers of blind cords.
It was something that I had never thought about. On further investigation and discussions between cuddles and coffee, I took a closer look at these cords. Whilst they were secured at the end with a tension device, the cords could still be pulled out, perhaps broken and they were long enough for a child to play with.
On returning home I did some research on blind cords and to my shock realised that this is a big problem that is not really discussed.
In NSW alone there have been four deaths in the past 2 years from little ones being strangled accidentally. The statistics can be found for deaths but there are far more injuries, some of which are horrifying with serious brain injuries. In the USA the statistics are even more shocking with up to 7 children fatalities per month. In Ireland, just before Christmas 2014, another child was accidentally strangled from playing with blind cords. If you research the Internet with the simple “blind cord safety” you will see that this is a worldwide problem.
Let’s talk about the general types of window coverings we may have in our homes:
1) Horizontal blinds
Particularly the older style. The cords hang down the sides, two cords are single and one is looped. The cords are an integral part of the blind operation and so need to be relatively easy to access.
Did you know that it is now mandatory to have these cords secured at least 1.6 metres above the floor?
The easiest way is to use a cleat or CordAid to wind the cords around and mount up high. The problem with this is that you need to always remember to do it. The new wands are great, but do have limitations on handling and can break relatively easily.
2) Vertical, Holland, Roman and roller
It is now mandatory that these types of blinds with the looped cords (usually 2 cords) hanging down the sides have to have a tension device, which the 2 loops are hooked into. The tension device is then screwed to the window/door frame. Whether you live in a rented property or have your own home this Regulation must be met as of 1 January 2015.
Some types of curtains have cords as well. These are usually hidden away behind the folds of fabric, but it is in this out of sight situation where the danger lies. Children playing hide and seek, see a looped cord and suddenly they are playing a much more dangerous game.
Some blinds have free hanging looped cords with weights at the bottom. To a child this weight looks just like a mobile phone, (just like mummy & daddy’s). A child picks up the “mobile”, put it to their ear and starts talking. If they are standing, they are probably walking around. Unknowingly the cord is twisting around the neck. A trip or stumble and before you know it a tragedy could happen. It happens so quickly and it can happen in front of you.
The Regulations focus on interior blinds, nothing has been said about the exterior, wind break/weather protection plastic blinds or the natural matchstick types.
These blinds have an added danger in that, because they are usually so wide, they need to have interior cords to assist with the winding up of the blind. These cords are not secured and are very difficult to secure.
By now you are probably getting the idea about blind cords being a silent danger or killer in our homes.
Children are inquisitive and adventurous. We don’t want to stop that. However, we need to think like a child, get down to their level and see the things that look attractive to play with.
Things that look like something mummy, daddy or brothers and sisters play with all the time. A beaded cord looks like a necklace, the adventure of climbing up to get that cord from the cleat before anyone else, is a game.
In the USA there is a push to ban corded blinds and personally I applaud this. However, if a total ban is put in place, how many would be able to afford to totally replace their blinds and or curtains with cordless or remote ones. There would need to be a period of adherence to the new laws but it is an expense that can be avoided with a little more thought. People need to be prepared.
A simple search on Google of “blind cord protectors” will give you results of ways to protect your children from the dangers of blind cords. Some are made here in Australia.
There are so many areas in the home where danger lies, if I have made you aware of one that you can alleviate from your daily concern then I am happy I have written this article.
Do you have cords hidden away from your kids in your homes? How do you achieve this?