As a very important element of the work around the safety of products undertaken by the City Council's Trading Standards Service, is the service's involvement with a product safety campaign aimed at highlighting the dangers associated with window blinds.
27 children are known to have died in the UK since 1999 as a result of becoming entangled with a blind or curtain cord or chain. Over half of these deaths have occurred in the last three years, and most have happened in the bedroom when parents thought their child was asleep.
From 2014 stringent new standards governing the manufacture, selling and installation of new blinds came into effect with the aim of reducing child accidents.
The British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT), British Standards Institute (BSI), have developed a strategy to persuade the UK Government and the EU to strengthen the safety requirements of existing product standards.
The new standards will mandate:
- safety devices for preventing any cords or chains from forming a hazard
- the testing of all safety critical items of internal blinds
- the testing of blinds using safety devices
- the installation of safety devices on the product at the point of manufacture
- maximum cord and chain lengths
- warnings and instructions
- packaging and point-of-sale information.
Announcement from the EU
On the 20 February 2014 the EU announced the publication of the new European standards on internal blind cords. View a press release on this announcement (pdf 185 kb)
Parents who are looking to buy new blinds for their homes are being encouraged to buy blinds that are safe by design – for example, blinds that are operated by wands rather than cords or chains.
However, the new standards do not apply to blinds already installed in people’s homes. They are a significant step to reducing blind cord accidents, but there is still a great deal of work to be done in raising awareness among parents – it is estimated that there are up to 200 million blinds in UK homes.
If parents have blinds at home that are operated by cords or chains, it’s vital that they understand the risks and the simple steps they can take to make their blinds safer – for example, by moving furniture away from blinds and fitting and using cleats, so blind cords and chains are kept well out of reach of young children.
However, there is a risk that older products within households could still present a danger to children and Trading Standards urge parents to follow a number of simple safety guidelines. These are:
- Cords ending in a loop are a particular risk.
- Make sure cords are out of the reach of children,
- A tie-down or tension device can be used to pull the cord tight and secure it to a wall or floor,
- Never put beds, cots or playpens within reach of an operating cord,
- Keep sofas, chairs, tables and shelves away from windows to prevent children climbing up and reaching curtain or blind cords.
City Council Trading Standards Officers have been working hard with local manufacturers to make sure that products are made to the new standard, alongside a publicity campaign which features a business fact sheet and a poster.
The Trading Standards Service has a business fact sheet for retailers which can be obtained for free by phoning 0191 2116121. Copies of the poster have been sent out to all organisations including nurseries and schools across the City. Anyone wishing to get a copy of the poster for their own premises should contact the Trading Standards Service on 0191 2116121.
View and download a copy of the campaign poster (pdf 4.83 mb)
For further information on all the issues with the safety of looped blind cords go the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident's website or the Child Accident Prevention Trust website.
For further information please contact the Trading Standards Service, Public Safety, Regulation and Development, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH.
Phone: 0191 2116121