Although strangulation is sometimes picked up in the news as a ‘freak’ accident, it is not uncommon. Babies and small children reach and grab for things that catch their eye, and this includes strings, ribbons and cords. They also get tangled in cords when climbing.

Many parents are unaware that these can be dangerous, so it’s important to help them identify the dangers and give them advice on how to prevent strangulation.

We recommend CAPT’s leaflets for parents and carers to help you show parents the risks for their children, and how to minimise those risks. The leaflets are targeted at different developmental stages, so parents and carers can get expert safety advice that is relevant to them and their child. The leaflets on babies and toddlers and up both deal with strangulation risks for young children.

How many children die of strangulation?

  • Asphyxia (which includes choking, strangling and suffocation) is the second most common cause of accidental child death in the UK, after road traffic accidents.
  • In 2010 alone, at least four young children have been strangled by blind cords.

How can strangulation be prevented?

Children strangle by getting tangled in cords and strings that their parents didn’t realise were dangerous. A parent might not know, for instance, putting a dummy on a ribbon around a baby's neck, can result in strangulation. Young children have also been strangled after getting their neck caught in the loop of a blind cord or blind chain.

CAPT’s resources are tailored to the different stages of a child’s development. They highlight to parents the risks for different age groups, so that parents can get advice in a way that makes sense to them.

Our parent-friendly picture books offer a colourful, engaging journey through each stage of a child’s development.

  • I’m only a baby but
  • Now I can crawl I can
  • Now I’m a toddler I can

Whether you’re looking to educate parents or make a children’s centre, nursery or school a safer place for young children, there are a number of things you can do to minimise risks.

  • Keep dangling cords and looped objects out of reach so small children can’t grab or play with the strings. These objects can include drawstring bags, ribbons, and cords.
  • Tie blind cords up well out of young children’s reach, for example round a cleat hook. 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 too, as young children love to climb.

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.

More information

CAPT’s range of leaflets and booklets will support you in your work with parents and carers by underlining the key safety messages. The leaflets are written with different stages of child development in mind, and are a key support tool when teaching parents about child accident prevention.

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Age-targeted leaflets

We also recommend you visit the website of the British Blind and Shutter Association to learn more about the Make It Safe campaign and download the blind cord safety leaflet.

Download this page as printable factsheet