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Medic's alert on blind cord dangers

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 25/05/2016

Thirty people have died in accidents involving looped blind cords in Northern Ireland in the last 18 years, a top medic has said
Thirty people have died in accidents involving looped blind cords in Northern Ireland in the last 18 years, a top medic has said

Thirty people have died in accidents involving looped blind cords in Northern Ireland in the last 18 years, the province's top doctor has said.

The figure emerged as Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride issued a stark warning over the risks.

He was speaking after an inquest into the death of two-year-old Bryan Saba, who died when his neck became caught in the cord of a blind in the living room of his home in Portadown.

There were warnings on blinds in the upstairs part of the house, but they were written in English, which the family could not speak.

The little boy, who was born in Verona, Italy, had just moved to Northern Ireland with his father Feliciano, an excavation engineer and now production line assistant at Moy Park, two weeks prior to the incident on September 11 last year.

An inquest into his death was held this week.

Dr McBride said: "Since 1999 there have been over 30 deaths that we're aware of in Northern Ireland.

"In 2014 new European standards were introduced which make it illegal to sell blinds with looped cords or chains unless they are supplied as safe by design.

"However, there are still thousands of looped blind cords in homes across Northern Ireland and it's these that need immediate attention if you have young children in your home.

"Injuries and deaths from blind cords and chains are particularly tragic but can be prevented by taking steps to ensure that blinds are kept out of reach of young children and that safety devices are installed on them."

He said there were simple steps tto eliminate the hazards.

These include:

Ω Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available.

Ω Do not place your child's cot, bed, highchair or playpen near to a window blind.

Ω Do not put sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases near to a window blind, as children love to climb.

Dr McBride also said that grandparents, relatives and carers should check their homes for dangerous cords.

"Children are naturally curious, they want to explore their surroundings and it's toddlers aged 16 to 36 months that are most at risk as they can become easily entangled in blind cords but are then unable to free themselves," he said.

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