Council highlights dangers of blind cords

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It can take less than a minute for a child to die from strangulation if they get tangled in a blind cord, parents are being warned.

There are thousands of these potentially lethal cords in homes across Northern Ireland. And tragically, 32 children have died in the UK since 1999 as a result of strangulation by a blind cord.

Karen McCulloch, Environmental Health Officer for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council commented: “Children can become entangled on hanging cords when playing, climbing or exploring near window blinds. It is important that those who manufacture, import, distribute or sell (including supply and fit) internal window blinds, ensure they only supply ‘safe’ products as is their legal duty under ‘The General Product Safety Regulations 2005’. There are many dangers associated with blind cords, so I would urge businesses and the public to be vigilant.”

As part of a regional initiative during 2016, councils across Northern Ireland visited 232 blind manufacturers and suppliers to provide advice on selling products that are safe and comply with the regulations.

The stringent new standards governing the manufacture, sale and installation of new internal window blinds mean that all internal blinds now have to display warning labels on the front of blinds as well as on the packaging. They must include safety instructions, as well as safety devices to ensure blind cords are kept out of the reach of young children. Where there is a likelihood of young children 0-42 months being present, there is a new maximum cord and chain length being imposed which affects homes and public places like hotels, hospitals, schools, shops and nurseries. Councils are also discouraging the use of internal blinds with looped cords and support innovators developing cordless blinds or blinds with concealed systems.

Blind cord safety devices are available for households with children under five from the council through the Home Safety Check Service. Contact Environmental Health via E: envhealth@antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk for more information.

Further advice is also available from the British Blind and Shutter Associations at www.bbsa.org.uk or from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents at www.rospa.com