The National Consumer Agency (NCA) has issued tips for keeping your window blinds safe for kids.
This information provided is intended as a guide only. You should contact your supplier with any queries regarding the safety of your blinds.
Young children can strangle in the loop of cords and chains that operate window blinds. Keep cords out of reach of young children. Move beds, cots and furniture away from window blind cords.
Your home should be a place where your children are safe and protected, but there can be dangers you cannot see. The cords of window blinds and curtains can pose a serious risk to children. Babies and young children, particularly those under the age of three, can be injured or strangled by cord loops on roller blinds, venetian blinds or vertical blinds.
How accidents happen
Small children can become entangled in hanging cords with loop ends. If they try to sit down or fall, there is a risk of strangulation as the cord may have become tangled around their neck. These types of tragedies have occurred both in Ireland and around the world. You can make your curtains and blinds safe for children and it is cheap and easy to do.
What to do
Make your existing blinds or curtains safe
- Cords ending in a loop are particularly risky. Cut the cord to get rid of the loop and install tassels.
- Do not knot or tie the ends together after cutting the cord – this creates a new loop which a child could become tangled in.
- The bottom of the cords should end at least 1.5 meters (4 feet 11 inches) above the ground so children cannot reach them
- Replace cords with curtain or blind wands, but avoid possible eye injuries by making sure children cannot reach them
- Where cords cannot be cut, a tie down or tension device can be used to pull the cord tight and secure it to the floor or wall. This is also a solution for vertical blinds with continuous loop cords:
- Never put a cot, bed, high chair or playpen near a window or patio door where a child can reach a curtain or blind cord
- Keep sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases away from windows to prevent children climbing up and reaching curtain or blind cords.
When Choosing New Blinds/Curtains
Blinds and curtains should be manufactured to the relevant Irish standard. For instance ‘Venetian Blinds’ should comply with I.S.EN 13120:2009, while ‘Roman Shades’ should comply with I.S 387:2012. These standards are designed to reduce the hazards posed to young children by window blind cords.
When choosing new blinds you should:
- Ask the shop if the blind has been manufactured in accordance with the relevant standard
- Check to see if a warning notice is on the blind
- The product should be designed so it does not pose a risk of strangling a child. Check that a safety device for keeping the cord out of the reach of children is provided with the blind, or incorporated into the mechanism
- Ask the supplier to demonstrate the product’s safe use
- Check that written instructions for assembly, safe installation, use and maintenance are provided
- Make sure that the person fitting the blind follows the manufacturer’s instructions and the new standard I.S 386:2012 Safety of corded window products – Guidance for procurement, measuring, manufacture, installation and retrofitting
Once installed, always follow the precautions listed above.
A word of caution
These tips should help to protect your child from possible serious harm.
You should be aware that all risks cannot be eliminated. Parents and people should always follow the safety instructions, and you should always keep window blind cords and parts out of the reach of children.
Using safety devices may reduce the risk of a child being strangled but nothing can be considered risk proof.
More information from the NCA
The NCA’s consumer help website, www.nca.ie, has loads of information on personal finance, managing your money and money-saving tips to help you stay on top of your budget throughout the school year. You can also find out everything you need to know about your consumer rights.
Do you have a tip for keeping your window blinds safe? Share it with us in the comments below!