Commissioner's blog: Don't be blind to cord danger
We like to think our homes are a safe space for our families, but sometimes the biggest dangers are lurking where you might least expect them.
Tragically, free-hanging cords from window coverings like curtains and blinds have been responsible for the deaths and injuries of many Australian children, including a two-year-old girl who died after being strangled by a blind cord at her Queensland home late last year.
With children spending more time at home recently, the young child’s death is a grim reminder for parents and carers to be vigilant of the dangers inside the home and holiday accommodation.
Young children often like to climb onto furniture to look out the window, so if they can reach the blind or curtain cords, they may quickly become entangled in them, lose their footing and suffer strangulation or serious injuries.
All looped cords must be designed and installed so as to remain firmly attached to a wall or other structure specified in the installation instructions when subjected to a tension force of 70 N applied in any direction for 10 seconds, and to prevent the possibility of a cord forming a loop 220mm or longer at a height of less than 1.6 metres above floor level.
Strong penalties apply for those who break the law, including fines of up to $220,000 for an individual or $1.1 million for a business or body corporate.
So whether at home or on holiday, you should check every room to make sure loose or looped blind cords are fixed out of reach so that children are not in danger.
It is also important to make sure that children can’t reach blind cords from their cot, highchair or other furniture.
When installing new blinds or curtains, a tie-down/cleat should be used that is not easy to remove from the wall but would come out if significant weight was applied. Safer still, consider doing away with cords altogether by opting for wands instead.
Further information for industry and consumers can be found at www.productsafety.gov.au, or come to Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or firstname.lastname@example.org to report an unsafe situation at any home or accommodation premises.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection
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