The home is not always the safest place for small children and pets. Each year 100’s of children are injured or killed by things like electrical outlets, access to cleaning chemicals, scalding hot tap water and even window coverings.
Child-Safe products are those that have no operating cords and inner cords that are not accessible to small children and pets. On window coverings that have have no operating cords but whose inner cords are accessible – the accessible cords cannot create a hazardous loop.
What are the risks?
Children can strangle when they wrap the cord around their necks or become trapped in the loop created when loose cords get entangled. Even if cleats are used to wrap excess pull cords, if installed within the child’s reach, the cords above the cleat present a hazard.
Looped Bead Chains or Nylon Cords:
Children can strangle in the free-standing loops. If you have window coverings that feature a continuous looping cord, you can install a cord tension device that made it’s nearly impossible for a child to create a hazardous loop.
Inner Cords of Roman Shades:
Children can pull out an exposed inner cord on the back side of Roman shades, wrap it around their necks and strangle. Children can place their necks in the opening between the fabric and cord and strangle.
Lifting Loops of Roll-up Blinds:
If the lifting loops (that raise and lower the blinds) slide off the side of the blind, they form a freestanding loop in which a child can become entangled and strangle. Children can place their necks between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material and strangle.
Steps for protecting children
In the US, a child aged between seven months and 10 years dies each month after being strangled on curtain and blind cords. Take these four simple steps to ensure that blind and curtain cords/chains are out of reach of children, particularly from children under six.
1. Check your blind and curtain cords
- Check for loose or looped cords that your child can reach from the floor or by climbing on furniture.
- Immediately tie cords out of reach and move away any furniture children might climb on to reach them.
- Do this anywhere you are staying, including on holiday.
2. Secure your cords out of reach
- Buy cleats or tensioning devices for securing cords from a hardware store or curtain and blind shop.
- Use screws to fix each cleat or tensioning device in a place that is out of reach of children.
- Never secure these devices with materials that may fail when a load is placed on them, such as double-sided tape or glue.
3. Buy new curtains and blinds which:
- comply with the national mandatory standard
- have warning labels to remind you of dangers to children
- provide a way to secure cords/chains so there are no loops or strands that children can reach, or
- operate without exposed cords/chains.
4. Keep children away from all cords/chains
- Move anything a young child can sit in, stand or climb on (like cots, highchairs, beds, sofas, tables, chairs and bookshelves) away from cords/chains—even those tied around a cleat, as your child may be able to untie them.
- Do not let children play near cords/chains they can reach.
- Never leave children alone in a room with cords/chains they can reach.
Retrofitting Old Window Coverings / Free Repair Kits
If you’re not in a position to replace your window coverings, you can take steps to dramatically reduce the inherent risks outlined above. If you cannot fix your unsafe cords and chains out of reach yourself, get a reliable trades-person to do it for you. If you are renting your home, seek help from your landlord or agent. The first link below will show you how to retrofit your existing blinds and the second link will lead you to a free repair kit that will greatly aid in the retrofit.