Blind cords

Are your blinds safe?

Looped blind cords and chains can strangle babies and young children. But there are simple steps you can take to keep them out of reach. Our advice can help keep little ones safe.

“Blind cords are lethal and silent killers of babies and young children which lurk in homes of parents and carers of young children.”

Practising his newly-acquired climbing ability, a toddler climbs onto a chair. The chair is by a window with a roller blind and the blind cord is hanging nearby. The child is unsteady, loses his footing and falls from the chair, his head and neck become tangled in the looped blind cord as he falls.

Sadly, this sort of scene is all too common.  There are many ways that young children can get into trouble with blind cords, and the results are usually fatal.

“She was still in her pyjamas and watching Peppa Pig and then she was just gone.”

So why are toddlers and young children so at risk?

Toddlers and small children are naturally inquisitive and love to climb, BUT

  • They won’t understand that they are at risk of a fall when they climb onto furniture.
  • If they wobble, they’re not likely to have learnt how to steady themselves.
  • Their heads weigh proportionately more than their bodies and their muscle control isn’t fully developed, so it’s very hard for them to free themselves if they get trapped in a blind cord.
  • Their windpipe is narrow and soft, so they can suffocate very quickly when their necks are constricted.

All these factors mean they are especially vulnerable to strangulation from looped blind cords and chains.

How does it happen?

We tend to think of home as the safest place for our children, especially their bedrooms.  We tend to think of blinds with their cords or chains as part of the furniture. BUT

  • toddlers like to climb to explore but are unsteady and can reach a blind cord
  • they can get caught up in the looped cord or chain if they dangle down, or put their head in the loop
  • their cot or bed may be close to a window that has a hanging blind cord
  • they may be playing in a room where there are blind cords, like a lounge

Even if your cords or chains seem like they are well out of the way, children might still reach them. Toddlers can climb up on chairs, beds, cots and tables, and suddenly reach places they hadn’t the day or week before.

Read our scenarios related to blind cord accidents that are based on true stories. They are very sad to read but help to give a good sense of how these accidents happen and how to prevent them.

It can take just 15 seconds for a toddler to lose consciousness if they get tangled in a blind cord. Death can occur in just two or three minutes.

Advice for families

  • Fit a tensioner to chains or a cleat hook to tie blind cords up well out of young children’s reach and use it every time you open or close the blinds. New blinds will come with these included.

  • Watch the short film below to see how to make roller blinds safe. Follow the links in the Make it Safe section (below) for more films on making blinds safe.
  • Bear in mind that, as children develop, they can climb on furniture and other objects, and might reach higher than you think.
  • Move cots, beds, highchairs and playpens away from looped blind cords and chains. If there’s space, try to move other furniture away from blind cords and chains too, as young children love to climb.
  • Always consider blinds which contain no operating cords or chains in children’s bedrooms first. These are inherently safe and there are options for every blind style.
  • Check all rooms of the house for looped blind cords or chains, especially rooms where children play, like the lounge.
  • Make sure the cords on the back of Roman blinds are connected with a safety device that breaks away under pressure.
If you’re advising parents on new blinds or looking to buy new blinds for your setting, look for those with no cords at all or with concealed cords. Members of the British Blind and Shutter Association are on hand to offer advice to learn more about the Make It Safe campaign and download the blind cord safety leaflet.

Make it Safe

As part of its Make It Safe campaign, the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) have produced a range of short films on blind safety for families. 

CAPT has worked closely with BBSA to refine the messaging, and the result is invaluable resources to help families understand the risks, show simple steps to make current blinds safe and options for new blinds with safety features designed into them..

The films demonstrate the commitment of manufacturers and retailers in preventing these deadly accidents, which happen quietly and quickly. 

Safety Standards

Standards governing the manufacture, selling and installation of new blinds came into effect in 2014 with the aim of reducing child accidents. These standards 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.

However, these 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.

What you can do to help spread the word:

More resources