While installing curtains and blinds is an everyday task that happens in quite literally every home across Australia, there are some hidden dangers involved: namely ensuring kids are protected from getting caught on curtain or blind cords and seriously harming themselves.
According to Western Australian Department of Commerce records, since the early 1990’s there has been at least 15 blind cord related deaths in Australia. Ensure your home is protected from this danger by following some precautions to help keep your children safe.
When installing blinds or curtains
New blinds and curtains are required by law to have warning labels attached to the cords. It is of the utmost importance that you read the information printed on these labels and follow any instructions accordingly.
In some cases safety devices are included with your curtains or blinds, or you can purchase them separately, which are designed to keep the cords out of the reach of children. These devices should be installed according to the instructions at the same time the curtains or blinds are installed. Any safety instructions should also be kept for future reference.
After new curtains or blinds are installed
Some looped cords can be cut to remove the danger of a child’s neck getting caught in the loop, while others need the loop to operate correctly. In this situation tie-downs or cleats can be installed on the window frame and the cord can be attached. The wall attachment should be strong enough so it won’t come off even if the child pulls the cord. Tension devices can also be added to the window frame that pull the cord tight and secure it to the floor or wall.
Parents should be very careful to make sure the cords and safety devices as well as safety kits are actually safe. They may state that they comply with the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) standards, however, these standards have been written by the manufacturers.
The best way to be absolutely sure that your window covering cords are safe is if a child cannot reach them. There are curtains and blinds that have wands instead of cords to operate the blinds. These are safe and are a better selection for people who have young children.
Safety tips to follow at home
If you already have curtains or blinds that have looped cords and you have no plan or budget to change them any time soon, there are some things you can do to make them safe for young children:
It is important that children cannot reach the cords. If the bottom is at least 160 cm above the ground and there is no furniture near the cords, the child will not be able to reach them. This means that no beds, high chairs, tables, play-pens and other furniture are near windows that have looped cords. Children like to climb on furniture to look out of a window. If they can reach a cord, they may start playing with it or use it to pull themselves onto the windowsill and then get tangled.
There should be no knots in cords. This can create a loop that wasn’t there before. Any knots, even accidental ones, should be untied whether they are at the top, in the middle or at the bottom of the cord.
Corded window coverings can be even more hazardous if they are not properly installed. Parents should make sure a professional installer is following the manufacturer’s instructions. If they are DIY installed, be sure to follow instructions.
If a child becomes entangled in a looped cord, strangulation can happen very quickly and quietly. Children should never be left alone in a room that has loop cords that they can reach.
Corded curtains and blinds simply are not worth the risk for people with young children. There is a variety of window covering products on the market that have undergone strict testing and are completely safe for children. According to the Parents for Window Blind Safety (PWBS) in the US there have been 551 deaths and injuries since 1996, with the greatest number, 59, in 2009. Since parents have become more aware of the problem, the deaths dropped to four in 2013. Horizontal window blinds have been found to be the most unsafe and cellular shades the safest. Either way, cordless is the best option.