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Mother of tragic toddler supports blind cord safety pack giveaway


A mother whose child died after becoming entangled in a blind cord is urging community groups and the like to help distribute thousands of safety kits to parents with young children across England.

Joy Edwards was left grief-stricken when her daughter, Leah, was strangled by the loop of a cord at their home, near Maldon, in Essex, in October.

The 18-month-old was one of five children who sadly lost their lives in this same way in 2010.

RoSPA has heard of at least 15 such deaths since 1999, while suspecting that many more near-misses go unreported. Although UK injuries are not reported systematically, cases in America show children can be severely disabled or left in a coma after being entangled in a blind or curtain cord.

Determined not to let other families suffer the same heartbreak, the distraught mum of four is calling upon organisations such as children’s centres, trading standards teams and Sure Start schemes to commit themselves to RoSPA’s initiative.

Mrs Edwards said: “I urge anyone interested in reducing the risks posed by looped blind cords to get involved in this campaign.

“I don’t want others to go through what my family and I had to go through when Leah died.

“By simply following the advice contained in the Make It Safe leaflet and wrapping loops around a cleat cord tidy, parents and carers can go a long way to better protecting young children.”

The current European standard (EN13120) relating to blinds states that safety devices must be supplied. The standard is currently being amended and its scope broadened. It is hoped it will take effect in the second half of 2011.

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.

Make it safe!

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

Cutting 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.

For campaign details, including advice about how to reduce the risks posed by looped cords, visit:

11th February 2011, 12:49
Page updated 5th Oct 2015, 13:25
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