Council inspections to prevent blind cord deaths

Published: 10th June 2016

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council officers have inspected 25 retailers and fitters of window blinds in the district since January 2016 to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords.

Since 2010, cords or chains to open and close blinds and curtains have been responsible for 16 deaths of children aged between 15 months and 36 months in the UK, while in Northern Ireland there have been three blind cord deaths in the past three years, all of which could have been avoidable.

Children can become entangled on hanging cords when playing, climbing or exploring near window blinds. It can take less than a minute for a child to lose their life on one window cord.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is working to prevent accidental deaths from blind cords. The clear message to those who manufacture, import, distribute or sell (including supply and fit) internal window blinds is to only supply ‘safe products’ as is their legal duty under ‘The General Product Safety Regulations 2005’.

As part of a regional initiative during 2016, ten Northern Ireland councils visited 232 manufacturers and suppliers of blinds, 25 of which were located in the Fermanagh and Omagh district, to provide advice on placing products on the market that are safe and comply with the regulations.

The stringent new standards governing the manufacture, sale and installation of new internal window blinds mean that all internal blinds now have to display warning labels on the front of blinds as well as on the packaging. They must include safety instructions, in addition to safety devices, to ensure blind cords are kept out of the reach of young children. Where there is a likelihood of young children 0-42 months being present, there is a new maximum cord and chain length being imposed which affects homes and public places like hotels, hospitals, schools, shops, places of worship and nurseries.

Councils are also discouraging the use of internal blinds with looped cords and support the use of cordless blinds or blinds with concealed systems.

Retailers and fitters must supply and install blinds with the appropriate safety devices to comply with the law and to prevent avoidable deaths. The industry is also encouraged to promote safety messages and provide and fit safety devices where required, especially to blinds already fitted in homes.

Consumers can find advice from British Blind and Shutter Associations (BBSA) at www.bbsa.org.uk/domestic/child-safety/26 or
from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents www.rospa.com.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Home Safety Officers are also assisting homeowners by raising awareness of the dangers of blind cords.  They can supply blind cord safety devices to homes with children under 5 years of age through Home Safety Assessments.

For further information and advice please contact Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Environmental Health service by telephoning 0300 303 1777.

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