Case Study: Leah Edwards
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 until the tragic death of Leah on October 10th, 2010.
That Sunday morning started just like any other - Leah, who tended to wake in the early morning, had woken at around 5.30 am and Joy had given both her and her brother a bottle of milk. She settled them back to sleep with their favourite lullabies playing and returned to bed.
The next thing Joy knew, it was 7.15 am and suddenly her eldest son Christian, aged seven, was shouting that Leah had something white around her neck. Joy said: "I immediately ran to her room, trying to think what was in there that was white. I rushed over to Leah's cot and picked her up, which is when I saw the blind cord looped around her neck."
Shouting for her husband to call paramedics, Joy frantically tried to untangle the cord which had wrapped several times around Leah and began CPR, using the skills she had learnt during a first aid course several years before. Her husband took over while she let the first responder and then the ambulance crew into the house.
"Within minutes, the house was full of paramedics and police officers – it all seems such a blur, but I remember taking my other three children downstairs and out of the way. A friend quickly arrived to look after them and we followed the ambulance to the hospital, trying to stay positive."
Despite their best efforts to revive her, doctors were unable to save Leah. When the couple arrived at the hospital, they were met by a doctor with the sad news and comforted by family liaison officers.
"We had to return home, where police photographers were taking pictures of the house. This was when we had to tell our other children that Leah was gone. She was a beautiful girl, quieter and more placid than Luis, but with a gorgeous smile - she was my little dolly.
We never thought that the blind in Leah's bedroom could be deadly - it is so important that parents are made aware of the risks.
- Joy Edwards, mum
"The children are doing well now but we miss her - we still talk about her all the time. Leah's ashes were scattered in a nearby Garden of Remembrance so that there is somewhere for the children to go to remember her", Joy said.
Joy has since thrown herself into raising awareness among other parents and carers about the dangers of looped blind cords, urging to ensure that they are tied up out of the reach of young children.
She has appeared on a number of television programmes and given numerous press and radio interviews to spread the message. Joy welcomes the work that RoSPA and the blinds industry have done to improve the European Safety Standard for new blinds but is keen that parents continue to be made aware of the risks of existing blinds in the home so that they can be made safe.
"We never thought that the blind in Leah's bedroom could be deadly - it is so important that parents are made aware of the risks. It is obviously hard to talk about losing our beloved daughter, but if it saves at least one life then it is more than worth it", she said.
"I would urge people to ensure that blind cords are tied up and out of the reach of young children – there are a variety of safety devices available that are inexpensive and easy to install. Also, remember that your children are growing all the time and things that weren't a danger before could be now – try getting down to their level and seeing what could be a risk to them."