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Window blind cord alert
Friday 11th June, 2010

Wigan Council's Trading Standards service is warning traders and consumers to be alert to the potential danger of strangulation posed by loose cords on internal window blinds and curtains.

Monday 21 June sees the start of Child Safety Week and Trading Standards is taking the opportunity to raise public awareness of the potential dangers that loose blind and curtain cords or chains can pose, particularly those with loops. Young children are especially at risk and can place their heads in the loop or get loose cords wrapped around their necks, the cord then tightening and strangling the child.

Cllr Paul Prescott, cabinet champion for lifestyle, explains: “Our concerns follow the tragic accidental deaths of two children aged 16 months and 3 years in Staffordshire in February this year.”

The children died in two separate incidents within five days of each other after becoming entangled in looped blind cords and Cllr Prescott says a timely reminder for parents is worthwhile. “Our advice may seem obvious, but a simple check around your home could be a lifesaver. And we’re looking for suppliers to think ‘safety first’ with what they sell, too.”

Trading Standards officers are advising parents with young children who have window blinds to follow a number of simple precautions to keep their children safe.

Keep furniture such as chairs, sofas, cots and beds well away from windows in order to prevent children from climbing up and reaching curtains and blinds.
If possible, replace cords or chains with a wand or even consider just having a simple curtain.
With looped cords or chains, if at all possible, cut the cord or chain to get rid of the loop. Attach a tassel to the end of each strand.
Keep cords or chains as short as possible and secure them so they are out of the reach of children.
Tie up cords or chains or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies or clips that are available from blind retailers or hardware stores.

Trading Standards officers are also urging local businesses to ensure that the blinds they manufacture and sell are safe. A new safety standard on the construction of blinds has been published which requires blinds to have a warning notice advising of the risk of strangulation from cords; and that the blind is designed so that cords and loops are not accessible by children or that a safety device is provided with the blind which can achieve the same result. Businesses who require further advice should contact Trading Standards on 01942 828142.

Trading Standards advise that whilst they have not received any reports of accidents in Wigan Borough, they want to make parents aware of the dangers cords and loops on curtains and blinds can pose, particularly to young children.

A safety leaflet produced by the British Blind & Shutter Association is available at: www.bbsa.org.uk/docs/BBSACordsafety-final-lores.pdf

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