Support our campaign
Joy and Andy Edwards thought they had taken every precaution to keep their four children, including 17-month-old twins Leah and Luis, safe in their home. They were not aware that the blind in the twins' bedroom posed a risk...
Accidents are the biggest killer of young children, if you would like to help raise funds to assist with our life-saving work, please text LEAH17 £5 to 70070.
Add your name to the list of supporters of RoSPA's Blind Cord Safety Campaign.
Do you work with pre-school children? Apply for cleats and leaflets now.
RoSPA is able to provide cleats and hard copies of the Make it Safe leaflet (in batches of 200) free of charge to children's service providers.
Download a free Make it Safe advice leaflet.
Download leaflet (PDF)
This leaflet contains simple, practical advice that can be used to significantly reduce the risk of a child being accidentally strangled by a looped blind cord.
RoSPA is no longer supplying free cleats, but the safety devices described in the leaflet, such as a cleats, chain-break connectors and cord tidies, should be available from most British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA)-approved suppliers and some DIY stores, and should not be expensive.
Find a BBSA retailer in your area.
Read about real families and their experiences.
Blind Cord Safety Campaign
RoSPA to distribute cleats to children’s service providers thanks to donations
Children’s service providers in England and Wales are being given another opportunity to obtain blind cord safety packs for distribution to families and carers of young children.
Using funds donated by businesses at the RoSPA Occupational Health and Safety Awards gala dinners in May 2012, RoSPA will be supplying safety advice leaflets and cleats - a small plastic device that is fitted to the side of the window for the operating cord to be wrapped around – free of charge.
The leaflets and cleats are available, to organisations that work with pre-school children, in batches of 200. If you work with children, or the carers or families of young children, apply for cleats and leaflets here.
RoSPA's own research shows that there have been at least 27 deaths across the UK since 1999 (14 of which have occurred since the start of 2010).
Since 2004, RoSPA has called upon the blind industry to take voluntary action to reduce the risk of looped cords and we are now working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), CEN (the European Committee for Standardisation), the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) and the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to investigate design modifications and raise awareness of the safety issues.
It is hoped that a voluntary agreement among manufacturers and retailers will eventually see an end to looped blind cords altogether. In the meantime it is essential that they are fitted with some form of safety device such as a chain/cord-break connector, chain/cord tidy or cleat.
In 2010, a summit was attended by delegates from IKEA, John Lewis, FocusDIY, Debenhams, Next, B&Q - as well as other blind manufacturers and retailers, all of whom were enthusiastic about improving the safety of corded blinds, sharing safety information with consumers and reducing the risks posed to children.
The current European standard (EN13120) relating to looped blind cords states that safety devices must be supplied. It is currently being strengthened and its scope broadened. It is hoped that the revised standard will take effect sometime during 2013.
Of course, new agreements and standards will not impact upon the millions of homes already with blinds and curtains featuring looped cords.
The Make It Safe campaign, of which RoSPA is a part, aims to raise awareness of the potential dangers of looped cords among families with small children.
Video advice from RoSPA
A video showing how quick and easy it is for a family to fit cleats for blind cords.
Blind cord cleat fitting instructions. (PDF 56kb)
RoSPA is aware of several deaths caused by blind cords over the years however there are also many cases where children have narrowly escaped being strangled by the cord. The link below takes you to Debbie from South Lanarkshire, Scotland who gives her own account of the day that could so easily have ended in tragedy.
It has often been reported that there is a ban of looped blind cords in North America. This is not the case. Instead, a system of voluntary self-regulation is in place to improve safety standards in the United States and Canada – much like there is in the United Kingdom.
As well as leaflets and advice, RoSPA has distributed more than 100,000 cleats free of charge to families, local authorities and community organisations over the last 18 months. Cleats can be fitted to tie blind cords high up out of the reach of children.
Why do blind cords pose such a risk?
Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months.
These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled.
In addition, toddlers' windpipes have not yet fully developed and are smaller and less rigid than those of adults and older children. This means that they suffocate far more quickly if their necks are constricted.
As with drowning, toddlers can be strangled quickly and quietly by looped cords with carers in close proximity, potentially unaware of what is happening.
To reduce the risk posed by looped cords, including blind cords, cords should be kept out of the reach of children.
Make it safe!
- Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child's bedroom
- Do not place a child's cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window
- Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach
- Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available
- Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed
- Don't hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring.
RoSPA does not recommend that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. It is advisable that any action taken on the blind cord is a permanent one which will take the cord out of reach of children. It is not an expensive task and a limited number of cleats are available to those who need them via the RoSPA website.
Cutting the cord in the wrong place can make the blind inoperable; and it may also lead to one cord becoming a lot longer which increases the risk of entanglement. Cut cords can also become tangled up resulting in the reformation of a loop.
** Reproduced with kind permission of the British Blind and Shutter Association © 2009
Frequently Asked Questions
Share this page: