Examining blind cord dangers among babies and young children

AS part of the recent Home Accident Prevention Week, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust held a free workshop to help raise awareness of the strangulation hazard posed to babies and young children by the looped cords on window blinds.

Blind cord safety is a UK-wide campaign and this year was selected as the theme for Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland’s (HAPNI) Home Accident Prevention Week.

Data from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents indicates that at least 22 children from across the UK have died from this type of accident in the past ten years with 11 occurring since the beginning of 2010.

Thirty five people attended the workshop which was targeted at those who have contact with families and young children including Southern Trust staff and community and voluntary groups. The circumstances surrounding these types of accidents and the age range of the children affected were highlighted along with information on the products and behaviour changes that can reduce the risk of these blind cord accidents.

The workshop also featured an interview recorded with Mr Martin Regan, the grandfather of Dean Regan Russell, who was accidentally strangled by the looped cord of a window blind in Kerry last year. Dean was only 23 months old when he died.

The workshop was organised by Nina Daly, Accident Prevention Officer, Promoting Wellbeing Team, Southern Trust who said “Many people still remain unaware of the danger that looped cords present to babies and young children. If a child’s neck gets entangled in a cord even for a few seconds they can be left permanently brain damaged or die. It really does happen that quickly, without warning and with the child often not able to cry out for help.

Nina added “Parents, child-minders and grandparents with young children need to consider any unrestrained blind cords in their home as a hidden and lethal hazard and take immediate steps to keep them tied up and out of the reach of young children. By making small changes to the home using cleat hooks, blind cord enclosures and not placing furniture including chairs, tables, cots, beds, highchairs, playpens under windows, many of these accidents can be prevented.

“If buying new blinds for the home, families are advised to look for designs that don’t have cords or chains, particularly if the blinds are for a child’s bedroom. If this is not possible, customers should make contact with a local blind fitter to install cleats or blind cord enclosures to make existing or newly installed products as safe as possible.”

As part of this awareness raising campaign, the four Home Accident Prevention Groups in the Southern Trust area in partnership with the Promoting Wellbeing Team will be distributing advice, information leaflets, posters and free cleat hooks to families who need them.

The workshop was delivered by RoSPA and was funded by the Public Health Agency.