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How do I prevent…?

Strangulation and asphyxiation

While all babies and toddlers are different, one thing they tend to have in common is their sense of curiosity. They love to explore the world, especially by picking things up and putting them on their head, in their mouth, in their hair. As any parent will attest, you only have to turn your back for a second to find your little monster covered in the blue paint you were certain you’d put away earlier.

While most of the time this natural inquisitiveness will result in nothing worse than an unscheduled bath, occasionally things can go tragically wrong. If young children get something caught around their neck or over their mouth, the effects can be quick and devastating.

Thankfully, these kind of accidents don’t have to happen.


Blinds might look harmless enough, but to a toddler or young child the looped cords can be deadly if they get them caught around their neck. In fact, since 2001, looped blind cords have been involved in at least 33 deaths in the UK.

Most of these accidents have involved children aged between one-and-a-half and two-years-old, and most commonly happen in the bedroom – which also happens to be the place where children of that age spend the most amount of time unsupervised.

The safest thing you can do is fit a blind that is safe by design, which means that it does not have looped cords. There are additional steps you can take to keep your little ones safe:

  • Choose 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
  • Keep cords on curtains and blinds short and use cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties to keep them out of reach
Cord tidy
Cord tidy
Cord cleat
Cord cleat
New cord cleat
New cord cleat
  • NEVER cut a blind cord, as this will not only stop your blinds working, it can actually make your blinds more dangerous.

Find out how to fit a cleat

Many of us are aware of the risks plastic bags such as shopping bags, bin bags or packing materials from parcels can pose to young children, especially babies who have a tendency to grasp at anything and put it to their face.

Sold to dispose of soiled nappies, nappy sacks are a common sight in many nurseries and changing bags. Often fragranced, and in a range of bright colours, they are especially attractive to young children.

Unfortunately, they can also be deadly, with at least 17 children having suffocated after a nappy sack covered their mouth and nose, or having choked after putting a nappy sack in their mouth.

Again, the best advice is to simply stop using nappy sacks – not only can they be dangerous, they’re also terrible for the environment. If you do choose to carry on using them, make sure that:

Nappy Sacks

  Always keep nappy sacks, other plastic bags and wrapping away from babies and young children.

  Place nappy sacks in a baby’s cot, pram or buggy.

While blind cords are a significant risk, there are lots of other common household items that can get caught around young children’s throats. Because toddlers’ windpipes have not yet fully developed, they tend to suffocate more quickly than older children.

There are countless items long and flexible enough to be dangerous; here is a list of ones to be especially watchful for:

  • Suspended toys or mobiles above cots or beds
  • Drawstrings on clothing
  • Ropes or belts
  • Drawstring bags (especially attached anywhere a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring).
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