New South Wales parents are being urged to check their blind and curtain cords as part of a new safety campaign to prevent children being injured and killed.
Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge said at least 15 children have died in Australia in the past 20 years after being strangled by loose blind and curtain cords.
“In New South Wales, there were seven fatalities between 1988 and 2002,” she said.
“Fortunately, there have been no more deaths in NSW since the State Government introduced tougher restrictions for blind and curtain cords in 2003.
“But while most other state and territories have now adopted our laws, fatalities are still occurring. The last two deaths were recorded in Victoria in August and October last year.
“That’s why we are joining a nationwide campaign to remind parents and carers that loose blind and curtain cords can kill.”
Ms Judge said the message was simple: fix cords out of reach, so kids are out of danger.
“Children do not understand that a curtain cord wrapped around their neck can tighten and strangle them in just a few minutes if they sit down, roll around or climb to the floor,” she said.
“If you have blinds or curtains that may have been installed prior to January 2003, you should check for loose or looped cords and remove them immediately.
“You can cut the dangerous loop out of some cords and attach a tassel to the end of each strand.
“If you cannot fix your unsafe cords out of the way, get a reliable tradesperson to do it for you.”
NSW Fair Trading has written to 11,500 curtain and blind suppliers and retailers, real estate agents, child care services, housing providers, child health centres and community groups this week asking them to help promote curtain cord safety.
Dr Elizabeth Cotterell, Chair of Kidsafe NSW and a staff specialist in the Emergency Department at Sydney Children’s Hospital said she welcomed the NSW Government’s safety campaign.
“Blinds and cords are a hidden danger. The cords can be concealed behind the curtain or blind, almost out of sight, out of mind of adults,” Dr Cotterell said.
“But to crawling babies or toddlers peeking out a window, they can inadvertently become a trap for fingers, toes or necks, as they try to negotiate their way to looking at the outside world.”
Ms Judge said parents should follow four steps to prevent any more tragedies from occurring:
- Check all blind and curtain cords - both at home and when you’re away on holidays. Make sure they are out of reach of children,
- Make loose cords safe – use cleats or cut the cord loop and attach a tassel at the end of each strand,
- Choose safe blinds and curtains – make sure new curtains and blinds have warning labels and provide a way to secure the cords out of reach and
- Keep children away from all cords – move furniture, cots and beds away from cords. Never leave children alone in a room with cords they can reach.
Copies of a free Blind and curtain cords brochure (in PDF format – size: 740kb) can be downloaded or ordered from the publications section of this website or call 13 32 20.
Fair trading enquiries: 13 32 20