Babies and toddlers are at particular risk of strangulation from looped cords, such as blind cords. The Child Accident Prevention Trust states that 30 babies and toddlers have died this way in the last 15 years, with The Royal Association for the Prevention of Accidents going on to say that most deaths from blind cords happen to children aged between 16 and 36 months. The majority of these accidents happen in bedrooms.
At this age, children are mobile and want to explore their surroundings. However, their heads are still quite heavy and they don’t yet have the muscle control to be able to free themselves if they become entangled.
Toddler’s windpipes are also smaller and softer than those of adults and older children, which means they will suffocate more quickly if their necks are constricted. Toddlers can be strangled quickly and quietly by looped cords such as blind cords with their carers nearby, unaware of what is happening.
To reduce this risk, all looped cords such as blind cords should be kept well out of reach of children.
How to keep your child safe
- Fit blinds that don’t have a cord- particularly in a child’s bedroom
- Tie up blind cords and chains well out of reach of children using one of the cleats, cord tidies or tensioners that are available
- Move children’s beds, cots, highchairs and play pens away from blinds that have looped cords. Move other furniture away as small children love to climb too.
- If possible, replace your blinds with blinds that are ‘Safe by Design’. These will have no cords or have tensioned cords that are safe
- If you have Roman blinds, make sure the cords on the back are connected with a safety device that breaks away under pressure
- Don’t hang toys or objects that could be dangerous on the cot or bed
- Don’t hang drawstring bags within reach of a small child as they could get their head caught in the looped cord of the drawstring
- Avoid using dummy strings. Although it might be annoying to keep retrieving lost dummies, having no cord on them is safer than tying them to your baby’s clothes
It’s not recommended that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. Cutting the cord can also make one cord a lot longer, which will be more dangerous to a child. Cut cords can become tangled and form a loop, becoming a danger to a young child.