Press Conference on window blind cords and child safety
On 02 December, CEOC International representatives attended a press conference on possible dangers arising from non-secured window blind cords. The event focussed on a case study of cords and chains in window coverings – a critical safety hazard that has led to many child deaths globally.
Roller blinds and window blinds can be found in many homes. Sadly, children are at risk of injury - or even strangulation - from cords used to operate the blinds. Indeed, several children have died following such accidents:
- 9 children in the EU between 15 and 36 months old were strangled in the cords of a window covering between 2008 – 2010;
- at least 2 children die every year in the UK alone strangled in the cords of a window covering, estimates show;
- 119 children in the US have died in accidents involving corded window coverings since 1999.
The event was moderated by Stefano Soro, head of unit Product and Service Safety at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers (SANCO). Presentations were given by Richard O’Brien (US Consumer Product Safety Commission), Robert Ianiro (Consumer Product Safety Bureau Product Safety Directorate, Health Canada), Ruth McKay (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission), Elena Santiago
The European Child Safety Alliance and ANEC advise parents to keep these cords out of reach of children and to ensure a cot, bed or playpen is not placed close to a window with corded blinds. Parents should also seek guidance from retailers about the use of existing safety devices to reduce the risks from blind cords.
Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary-General, said “Some years ago, the safety standard EN 13120 was improved after a child in the UK died from strangulation. Despite this revision, ANEC remained concerned as certain blinds (e.g. roman shades) are not covered by the standard. Hence, we welcome the initiative from the European Commission to issue a standardisation mandate to CEN. We call CEN and its members to fulfil their obligations to the public interest and to involve child safety experts in the work, in order to ensure that all types of window blinds are covered by more stringent safety requirements related to child safety. In terms of solutions, we need blinds without cords or cords only where they are essential. Those cords should not pose a strangulation hazard.”
ANEC is the European consumer voice in standardisation, defending consumer interests in the processes of technical standardisation and conformity assessment as well as related legislation and public policies.
Joanne Vincenten, Director of the European Child Safety Alliance, said “In some ways, the greater problem is the vast number of blinds already in use. Those blinds will fall outside any new or revised standard, and raising public awareness to take preventive action is the only answer. We therefore fully support the Commission in making parents aware of the risk that window blind cords can pose to children.”
The European Child Safety Alliance is a programme of EuroSafe – The European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion. The Alliance forms a platform for cooperation and partnership for European level child injury prevention. Direction is provided by the Alliance Steering Group, composed of representatives of more than 30 participating Member States and affiliated international child injury prevention organisations.