NSW: School holiday warning - Blind cords can kill


NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning families to thoroughly check homes and holiday accommodation for risks to babies and children.

Mr Stowe said the upcoming school holidays and the recent death of a young child in NSW from blind cord strangulation had prompted a renewed call for accommodation audits for safety risks.

“This coming holiday season, whether you are staying in rented accommodation or with relatives, carefully check your accommodation and refer to Fair Trading safety guidelines on blinds and curtains, available on the Fair Trading website,” he said.

“In seconds a child can become entangled in a curtain or blind cord.

“If a child runs and trips, or plays with a cord, it can act like a noose.

“Babies can grab a nearby blind or curtain cord through a cot slat and pull it around their necks.”

One to two Australian children die each year after being strangled by blind or curtain cords.

Grieving Port Stephens parents Laura and Clinton Mackay have offered to help NSW Fair Trading warn others.

Last month they lost their 18-month-old beloved son Jack when he accidentally wound a blind cord around his neck.

The Mackays want to help prevent other parents and families suffering a similar immense loss.

The Commissioner commended the Mackays and warned parents and families across NSW to move all furniture, including cots and beds, away from curtain and blind cords.

“Keep cords out of the reach of babies and children,” he said.

“All new blinds and curtains with cords must be supplied with a warning label or tag attached and retail packaging must also carry the warning.

“Some products include safety devices. Install safety devices and use them according to manufacturer’s instructions. Ask suppliers to show you the safety features.”

Mr Stowe said that if you have blinds or cords that were installed prior to 2003, take steps to remove the hazard of a looped cord.

Child safe blinds illustration 1“Cut looped cords above the tassel and remove any tassel and equaliser buckle,” he said.

“Attach a new tassel to each of the pull cord ends and knot the cord to hold the tassel.”

Alternatively, you can install a 'break-through' tassel. A 'break-through' tassel gathers the single cords together and separates the cords when a child puts its neck or body in the loop. The tassel can be attached at the end of the cords.

Child safe blinds illustration 2Pull-cords on certain vertical blinds or curtains require a continuous loop to pull across or change the angle of the slats and therefore cannot be cut.

For these types of blinds or curtains, you will need to attach a cleat to the wall or window from near the curtains or blinds and wrap the cord around the cleat that you have attached or use a tie-down or tension device to pull the cord tight and secure it to the wall or floor.

Contact your real estate agent or landlord if you have any safety concerns about holiday accommodation.

In September 2002 NSW Fair Trading was the first jurisdiction to introduce regulations requiring new blind cords meet safety standards.

New South Wales Fair Trading worked with other regulators to develop the mandatory standard for internal blinds, curtains and window fittings (corded internal window coverings) that was declared on 8 July 2010.

It applies to relevant blinds, curtains and some fittings supplied after 30 December 2010. For more information on the standard go to www.productsafety.gov.au

Check www.recalls.gov.au for any recalls related to blind and curtain cords.

For more information about keeping homes safe for children go to www.kidsafensw.org

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