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Council creating awareness around blind safety

27 April 2016

Derry City and Strabane District Council is proactively working to create awareness around blind safety in an effort to prevent accidental deaths from blind cords.

Seamus Donaghy, Head of Health and Community Well-Being said Council is working hard to prevent accidental deaths from blind cords. He explained that internal blind cords were responsible for the deaths of 32 children between the ages of 15 months and 36 months in the UK since 1999 and that 16 of these avoidable deaths have occurred since the beginning of 2010. In Northern Ireland alone there have been three blind cord deaths in the past three years.

“Children can become entangled on hanging cords when playing, climbing or exploring near window blinds. It can take less than a minute for a child to lose their life on one window cord. Derry City and Strabane District Council is working hard to prevent accidental deaths from blind cords. The clear message to those who manufacture, import, distribute or sell (including supply and fit) internal window blinds is to only supply ‘safe products’ as is their legal duty under ‘The General Product Safety Regulations 2005’.”

He added that as part of a regional initiative during 2016, Derry City and Strabane District Council along with other councils across Northern Ireland visited 232 blind manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that all products placed on the market are safe and comply with the regulations.

“The stringent new standards governing the manufacture, sale and installation of new internal window blinds mean that all internal blinds now have to display warning labels on the front of blinds as well as on the packaging. They must include safety instructions, as well as safety devices to ensure blind cords are kept out of the reach of young children. Where there is a likelihood of young children 0-42 months being present, there is a new maximum cord and chain length being imposed which affects homes and public places like hotels, hospitals, schools, shops, places of worship and nurseries.  

“We are actively discouraging the use of internal blinds with looped cords and support innovators developing cordless blinds or blinds with concealed systems.
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“The onus is on retailers and fitters to supply and install blinds with the appropriate safety devices to comply with the law and to prevent avoidable deaths. The industry is also encouraged to promote safety messages and provide and fit safety devices where required, especially to blinds already fitted in homes,” he concluded.

Consumers who are concerned can in the first instance can find advice from British Blind and Shutter Associations (BBSA): http://www.bbsa.org.uk/domestic/child-safety/26
or from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA):
http://www.rospa.com/news/releases/detail/?id=1285

Council Home Safety Officers are also on hand to help homeowners and raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords.  They can supply blind cord safety devices to homes with children under 5 years of age through the Home Safety Check Service.

Further information and advice is available from local Council Environmental Health departments.