Blind cord danger is real

For many families the idea of replacing a full home of internal Blinds is quite daunting. Perhaps it’s rented accommodation.

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‘I lost my little girl and I will never be the same’

Zoe Hart, a very bright and bubbly 20-month-old girl, was put in bed for her afternoon nap. But when her parents checked on her 10 minutes later, she had died, strangled by a common household item.

When Dee Hart last saw her 20-month-old daughter Zoe alive she was cheekily playing on her bed instead of taking an afternoon nap.

“She was looking at herself in the mirror while jumping up and down and having a good time, so I put her back to bed,” Dee, of Hobart, tells Kidspot, remembering that devastating day in September 2002.

Ten minutes later, Dee’s husband Stephen checked on their little girl and his shocking discovery changed their lives forever.

“She had got up to have a look out of the window, slipped off a little side table and her head went through the blind cords. She was hanging,” Dee says.

“All of the little beads from the cords were embedded in her little neck. My husband couldn’t actually break it apart because they were that strong – so we had to unwind my daughter off the cord.

“I was on the phone to Triple-0 and we were trying to both do CPR – he was pumping and I was blowing, but it was all too late.”

 

 

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Zoe tragically passed away on 15 September, 2002. She was 20 months old.

“The sooner they get rid of them the better”

That horrendously dark day when Dee and Stephen lost their darling daughter will always be deeply etched in their minds.

“It was disgusting – watching your only child die on the ground in front of you and there is nothing you can do,” says Dee, who was 14 weeks pregnant with her son Michael at the time of the heartbreaking tragedy.

Dee is telling her heartbreaking story to Kidspot today, following IKEA’s announcement last week that they will only sell cordless blinds in their stores globally.

“It’s about time – we don’t need cords hanging everywhere. Even the curtains don’t need cords – we used to just pull them along,” Dee says.

“They are just so dangerous – so the sooner they get rid of them the better.”

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Dee with her beautiful daughter.

While IKEA has developed cordless roller blinds, a cellular blind with non-accessible cords, and Roman magnetic blinds and curtains without drawstrings, IKEA Australia range manager Tim Prevade says a satisfactory solution is not yet available for Venetian blinds. As such, IKEA will no longer be selling this product.

“IKEA is committed to working together with our customers to raise awareness of this important issue and to help families get the knowledge they need to ensure a safer everyday life at home,” he says.

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Zoe is one of 15 Australian children who have died from being strangled by blind or curtain cords since 2001.

15 deaths since 2001

There have been at least 15 deaths associated with corded window coverings in Australia since 2001, with an Australian child reported to die each year from strangulation by blind or curtain cords. At least nine of those deaths were children under the age of three.

In February 2014, another two families lost children to this easily-prevented accident.

A 16-month-old girl died at a home in Hornsby, in Sydney’s north, after becoming tangled in a blind cord that wrapped around her neck. She was in cardiac arrest when emergency services arrived and died at the scene.

In the same week, a 15-month-old girl was found unconscious in her cot in Quakers Hill, in northwest Sydney, and later died in hospital.

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Dee keeps herself busy with her three other beautiful children – Michael, now 13, and twins Zara and Adele, now 12.

“You don’t get over it – you learn to live with it”

Dee doesn’t want any other parents to live with the same unbearable heartache day-in and day-out that she and Stephen endure.

“You don’t get over it – you just learn to live with it,” she says.

“Some days are bad and some are good and that’s how life will be until the day I die. And I’ll never be the same person because you can’t be.”

She is putting all of her energy into her three other gorgeous children.  Dee had twin girls, Zara and Adele, two years after Michael was born.

“Stephen and I have just stuck together. It’s tough sometimes but we love each other and we’ve got three other beautiful children,” she says.

“Don’t think it can’t happen to you”

She has also been raising awareness about the dangers of blind cords ever since the tragic loss of Zoe and has a Facebook page – Zoe Dee Hart Awareness of a silent killer.

“We need to let parents know because a lot of people don’t realise. We need to save as many lives as possible,” she says.

“It was the last thing we ever expected to happen to us – so don’t think it can’t happen to you.”

Tips for blind and curtain cord safety

(Supplied by Product Safety Australia)

Choose blinds and curtains with safe design features that:

  • have warning labels to remind you of dangers to children
  • provide a way to secure cords/chains so there are no loops or strands that children can reach
  • operate without exposed cords/chains

How to install safely

  • When installing new blinds and curtains, make sure you or the installer secures any loose or looped cords – do not leave them hanging down
  • If possible, get rid of looped cords by cutting the cord and installing tassels
  • Some blinds can’t operate properly without looped cords. To keep them out of children’s reach you should secure these cords with either tie-downs (cleats), or tension devices that enclose cords and chain loops
  • You can get tie-downs and tension devices from hardware or window furnishing stores. Always fix tie-downs and tension devices firmly to the wall or window frame so a child is not able to remove it
  • Never use materials that can’t support a load, such as double-sided tape or glue

Safety tips for the home

  • Go through every room in your home and check for any blinds or curtains with long cords that are either loose or looped
  • Remember, this includes any cords that are within children’s reach at floor level or near furniture they can climb on.
  • Do not put children’s cots, beds, highchairs or playpens near a window where children can reach the blind or curtain cords
  • The cords can get around children’s necks and strangle them while they are playing or sleeping
  • Do not place sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases near windows with corded blinds or curtains
  • Young children often like to climb onto furniture to look out the window. If they can reach the cords, they may quickly become entangled in them, lose their footing and suffer strangulation or serious injuries
  • Make sure blind and curtain cords are not hanging anywhere within children’s reach
  • Loose cords can easily wrap around and strangle children who are jumping, playing or climbing nearby
  • Always supervise children in any rooms with reachable blind or curtain cords
  • Accidental strangulation can happen very quickly, so never leave children alone in these rooms, even for a short while

Source: kidspot.com.au

Keep your children safe.

“Blind Cord Safety is an international problem and a dilemma. For people who are economically challenged or those who live in rented accommodation Replacement isn’t an option. Cordaway provides a safe. secure cost effective solution.

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Here’s the latest from Britain…

Blind Cord Safety Campaign

Since 2004, RoSPA has called upon the blind industry to take voluntary action to reduce the risk of looped cords and has been working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), CEN (the European Committee for Standardisation), the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) and the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to investigate design modifications and raise awareness of the safety issues.

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Following this work, RoSPA has welcomed a major development in its campaign to stop window blinds posing a risk to the lives of young children and is pleased to announce that the new EN13120:2009+A1:2014, released in February 2014, strengthens the child safety elements of the standard.

The new standard amends a previous European standard published in 2009. The amendment considerably extends the standard scope so that it covers not only venetian blinds, roller blinds, vertical blinds and pleated blinds, but also honeycomb blinds, Roman shades, Austrian/Festoon blinds, panel blinds, plantation shutters and roll-up blinds.

It requires that new blinds must be “safe by design” or be supplied with the appropriate child safety devices installed. This means that where there is a loop that is present, or could be created, a safety device must be installed at the point of the manufacture. These safety devices either break under pressure, tension the cord or chain or provide the facility to store cord(s) out of reach. Professional installers must fit these devices. If you are fitting blinds yourself follow the instructions supplied with the product and make sure you fit any safety device.

The standard also imposes a maximum cord and chain length. All blinds must also continue to carry safety warnings. The main standard is supported by two additional standards: EN 16433:2014 and EN 16434:2014 which relate to testing requirements.

Manufacturers and retailers that do not comply could be prosecuted under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

Though these standards aim to make new blinds much safer, many homes are still fitted with blinds that will not incorporate these safety requirements. It is still important to raise awareness among parents, grandparents and carers to ensure that looped blind cords are kept out of the reach of children.

 RoSPA’s own research shows that there have been at least 30 deaths across the UK due to looped cords since 1999 (18 of which have occurred since the start of 2010).

The Make It Safe campaign, of which RoSPA is a part, aims to raise awareness of the potential dangers of looped cords among families with small children.

As well as leaflets and advice, RoSPA has distributed more than 500,000 cleats free of charge to families, local authorities and community organisations over the last 18 months. Cleats can be fitted to tie blind cords high up out of the reach of children.

Why do blind cords pose such a risk?

Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months.

These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled.

In addition, toddlers’ windpipes have not yet fully developed and are smaller and less rigid than those of adults and older children. This means that they suffocate far more quickly if their necks are constricted.

As with drowning, toddlers can be strangled quickly and quietly by looped cords with carers in close proximity, potentially unaware of what is happening.

To reduce the risk posed by looped cords, including blind cords, cords should be kept out of the reach of children.

Make it safe!

  • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom
  • 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 kept 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 get their head through the loop of the drawstring.

RoSPA does not recommend that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. It is advisable that any action taken on the blind cord is a permanent one which will take the cord out of reach of children. It is not an expensive task and a limited number of cleats are available to those who need them via the RoSPA website.

Make it Safe logoCutting the cord in the wrong place can make the blind inoperable; and it may also lead to one cord becoming a lot longer which increases the risk of entanglement. Cut cords can also become tangled up resulting in the reformation of a loop.

Further information**

**Reproduced with kind permission of the British Blind and Shutter Association © 2015

Report puts blind cord dangers in spotlight

A report which aims to help save children’s lives by highlighting the dangers of looped blind cords and chains is to be released (July 2015).

The 30-page paper instigated by UK Chief Medical Officers calls for more appropriate deaths and near misses data to be recorded to better identify the scale of the problem.

The report also revealed that there are still millions of potentially unsafe blinds that were fitted in the UK prior to the introduction of new legislation in 2014.

Source: rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/blind-cord/

 

Cordaway – The real solution for dangerous exposed Blind Cords

Cordaway offers a sensible, viable, cost effective solution for parents looking to neutralise the very real danger of exposed blind cords.

Cordaway is easy to fit and keeps dangling cords out of reach of young toddlers.

Here are two recent articles on the dangers of Blind Cords. The answer is simple – Cordaway.

Injuries and death from window blind cords send two kids to emergency department each day

While the cords dangling from your window blinds may not seem like a risky item, for small children, they can pose the risk of strangulation or serious injury, according to a new report.

The study published in the journal Pediatrics found that from 1990 through 2015, 17,000 children under six, or almost two children a day, wound up in the emergency department for window blind-related injuries in the USA. According to a statement from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital of those injured the majority were released, but the study found that about one child each month died when their neck became entangled in a window blind cord.

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Many parents believe that they can keep their children from harm if they watch them carefully, but many blind related injuries happen within minutes, Gary Smith, MD, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital said in a statement.

“A curious child can quickly get entangled in a window blind cord,” Smith said. “This can lead to strangulation within minutes, and the parent may not hear a thing because the child often can’t make a sound while this is happening.”

Data for the study was obtained from National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) and In-Depth Investigation (IDI) databases, which are maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

According to the study, the dangers of blind cords peak for children ages 1 to 4, when a child’s mobility increases. Smith said in a statement that it’s “unacceptable that children are still dying from window blind cord strangulation.”

He said the current voluntary safety standards surrounding blind cords are not enough, and called on parents to swap out blinds for cordless blinds and shades.

“A mandatory federal safety standard should be adopted prohibiting the sale of products with accessible cords,” he said.

The study said parents should replace all blinds with cords, or purchase retrofit kits that can address some of the cord hazards.

Parents can also move furniture away from windows so children cannot climb on them to get to window blind cords.

Source: usatoday.com

 

A Mum’s heartfelt warning after son almost strangled by vertical blinds

Stevie Nicki is warning parents with young children about the dangers of blind and curtain cords.

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The 27-year-old mum of four from Wagga Wagga recently took to social media to share her own terrifying experience, after her 18-month-old son was almost strangled last week.

Nicki recalls the horrifying moment she looked up from folding laundry to see the toddler, who’d been playing peacefully a moment earlier, stuck in the cords at the bottom of the vertical blinds.

“I didn’t even notice – it happened that quickly – and he was in the same room as me,” she tells 9Honey.

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“He said ‘mum’ fairly quietly, and I looked over and it was all strangled around his neck,” she says. “Not too tightly, but he couldn’t move and he was getting quite upset.

“I just think, imagine if I’d ducked out to the toilet, or was in another room. If he was left there for a minute or two, it would have been completely different. It’s not like they snap off; there’s no way he’d break out of them himself.”

Nicki had been conscious of removing the blinds in the children’s rooms when the family moved into the rental property. “A few years ago, there were so many stories about children dying because their cots were close to the windows,” she adds.

“But I didn’t think it was an issue in the living areas. I’ve never heard specifically about children being strangled in the cords along the bottom of the vertical blinds, and I just wouldn’t have thought of it.”

Once she’d removed the cords and given her son a cuddle, Nicki, who runs a mum’s blog, recreated the horrifying scene to take photos, in order to warn others.

However, as she tells 9Honey, she has received unkind responses to previous posts, so waited a few days to think it over before posting the images and revealing the horrifying experience.

“I knew people would be like, ‘Well you should have been watching him,’ or, ‘Why did you have those cords on there anyway,’ she says.

But in the end she decided the message was too important.

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“Just another thing to criticise another mother, but maybe it’s more important than me and what you think,” she wrote on the post. “Maybe it might stop it from happening to someone else.”

Her message has been well-received, and members of her 14,800 Instagram community have been grateful.

“I have never thought of those little ones at the bottom,” writes one. “I think I will remove them tonight.”

Source: honey.nine.com.au

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