Tougher blind cord standard will save children’s lives, says RoSPA

19/02/2014

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has welcomed a major development in its campaign to stop window blinds posing a risk to young children.

The safety charity hopes that a new, tougher, version of the European standard for internal blinds will help to stop toddlers being strangled by looped cords.

Full details about the new EN 13120:2009+A1:2014 standard, which has been launched by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), are available to view on the CEN website.

RoSPA's own research shows that there have been at least 27 blind cord deaths across the UK since 1999 (14 of which have occurred since the start of 2010).

The new standard amends a previous European standard which was published in 2009. The amendment considerably extends the standard’s scope so that it covers not only venetian blinds, roller blinds, vertical blinds and pleated blinds, but also honeycomb blinds, Roman shades, Austrian/Festoon blinds, panel blinds, plantation shutters and roll-up blinds. 

It requires that new blinds must be “safe by design” or be supplied with the appropriate child safety devices installed. This means that:

  • Where there is a loop present in a blind it will be fitted during manufacture with a safety device that will break under pressure
  • Safety devices will also be supplied to secure the cord to a wall.

The standard also imposes a maximum cord and chain length. All blinds must also continue to carry safety warnings. The main standard is supported by two additional standards: EN 16433:2014 and EN 16434:2014 which relate to testing requirements.

Manufacturers and retailers that do not comply could be prosecuted under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

Though these standards aim to make new blinds much safer, RoSPA is warning parents and carers to consider the safety of the 200million blinds already fitted in UK properties. It has issued the following advice to help them: 

  • 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.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, said: “The arrival of the new blind cord standard is a welcome development because it will help to strengthen the safety of all new blinds and save children’s lives.

“But it is important to stress that there are 200million blinds already fitted in UK properties. This is why it is important to continue to raise awareness among parents, grandparents and carers of making sure that looped blind cords are kept out of the reach of children. Too many young lives have been lost and we don’t want more deaths.”  

Since 2010, when RoSPA re-launched its blind cord safety campaign, it has given away almost 500,000 safety packs to families across the UK.

The Make it Safe campaign has seen RoSPA work with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA), Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) and many leading manufacturers and retailers. Families who have been directly affected by blind-related accidents have also been involved.

In October, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, made a recommendation in her 2012 Annual Report on Child Health, Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays, that Dr Michael McBride, the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, lead a newly established group, formed by the four UK Chief Medical Officers, to look at ways to reduce window blind cord accidents and deaths.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “The announcement by CEN is a welcome step forward in helping to significantly reduce the dangers that the looped cords of window blinds pose to young children.

“I am pleased to note the excellent work of RoSPA in conjunction with BIS and BBSA. This is an important contribution.”

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales and the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland have also welcomed the new standard.

For more information, and to download a free blind cord safety leaflet, visit www.rospa.com/blindcords.

For photographs and other requests email: pressoffice@rospa.com or call 0121 248 2135.

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