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Internal blind cords safety information

There have been 28 children in the UK since 1999 that have died from accidents related to internal cords (14 since the beginning of 2010). These deaths are avoidable.

At the time of writing this article, another such tragic death had recently occurred in neighbouring Sunderland.

The UK has the largest market for internal blinds in Europe and has been instrumental in adapting the European Standard EN 13120:2009 which sets out the performance and safety requirements for internal blinds, particularly the sections dealing with child safety.  

As a result, all blinds placed on the market now have to display warning labels placed on the front of blinds as well as on packaging. They must include safety instructions, as well as safety devices to ensure blind cords are kept out of the reach of young children.  The Standard also imposes a maximum cord and chain length where there is a likely hood of young children 0-42 months present which includes homes and  public places like hotels, hospitals, schools, shops,  places of worship and nurseries. 

This Authority wishes to alert consumers and businesses to the danger posed by window blinds and curtain cords. Such cords pose a danger of strangulation to young children

The General product Safety Regulations 2005 require businesses sell "Safe Products". This Fact Sheet has been prepared to inform consumers and assist manufacturers, retailers and others in the supply chain to comply with the regulations.

A "Safe Product" is one which under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use including duration and, where applicable, putting into service installation and maintenance requirements does not present any risk or only the minimum risk compatible with the products use, considered to be acceptable and consistent with a high level of protection for the safety and health of persons.

A new standard BS EN 13120:2009 (Internal Blinds - Performance Requirements Including Safety) will assist businesses in manufacturing and supplying products which are safe for consumer use.

Section 8.2 of the Standard deals with the risk of strangulation.

The steps it requires are:

  1. The attachment of a warning notice to the product.
  2. The provision of advice to keep cords and chains or similar out of reach of children (with instructions for its proper use)
  3. Where the product requires a looped operating mechanism, the manufacturer must provide a means to limit the risk by incorporating it into the design or by an appropriate device supplied with the product.

We recommend that manufacturers design to the Standard and suppliers sell products complying with this Standard. Consumers of window coverings should be advised of the hazards and how children can be protected by taking the appropriate precautions.

Businesses may have sold products which do not comply with the new Standard. The General Product Safety Regulations require producers to take appropriate measures to inform consumers of the risks and where necessary recall of the product. Distributors are required to act with due care and to only supply products that meet the Regulations.

Remedial advice to customers should be as follows:

  1. Cords opening in a loop are particularly risky. Where possible operating cords, chains and tapes or similar should be kept short. Cut the cord to get rid of the loop and install tassels.
  2. Cords should be out of the reach of children. Replace cords with curtain or blind wands.
  3. Where cords cannot be cut or tied down, a tension device can be used to pull the cord tight and secure it to the floor or wall.
  4. Never put a cot, bed, high chair or playpen near a window or patio door where a child can reach a curtain or blind cord.
  5. Keep sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or book cases away from windows to prevent children climbing up and reaching curtains or blind cords. People in charge of children are ultimately responsible for following the safety instructions provided by the manufacturer.

For a full version of the new Standards contact The British Standards Institution (BSI)

We continue to support the British Blind and Shutter Association's (BBSA) "Make It Safe" Campaign in raising awareness of the potential dangers blind cords may pose to babies and young children and in ensuring that safety advice is supplied with the blinds.

We also continue to work with stakeholders such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the Child Accident Prevention Trust (Capt) and Trading Standards, to raise public awareness.

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