Action urged after toddler loses life in blind cord tragedy
The Comber toddler who tragically died after being accidentally entangled in a looped blind cord has been described as a "much-loved and well-cared for child".
The death of the 21-month-old - named locally as Megan Allen - has plunged the Co Down town where she lived into grief over the loss of such an innocent.
Last night Northern Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride announced that he was leading a high-powered national group to produce recommendations to help "prevent this utterly tragic type of death".
The PSNI has confirmed the child's death was not being treated as suspicious.
The Northern Ireland Coroner's office reported that its investigation into the death was still ongoing,
The young parents of the only child were not at home yesterday at their mid-terrace house in Comber, Co Down, where the accident occurred on Wednesday morning.
It's understood that they were being comforted and were staying with family.
Several homes along the terrace had their front curtains and blinds drawn over as a mark of respect for little Megan.
One of her neighbours, who asked not to be named, said: "I'm really saddened about this as I've met the child with her father several times. The street is sad and the whole town is as well. Everybody's talking about it.
"She was just a lovely little girl who was a much-loved and well-cared for child."
How the little girl died will be investigated in an inquest but there have been two other recorded deaths of toddlers dying from being choked by blind cords over the last three years. Dean Regan Russell from Bellaghy, Co Londonderry, was only 23 months when he died in January, 2011 while Daniel Grant (2), from Mayobridge, Co Down, died in February, 2013.
Dr McBride urged a nationwide approach to inform parents and those looking after toddlers about the dangers of blind cords.
He said: "Sadly, this is not the first incident of its kind. In fact, this is the 16th death that we are aware of in the UK since 2010. We need to work across the UK to ensure it is the last."
Ita McErlean, home safety manager with the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents Northern Ireland, has urged all adults to ensure their homes were safe for toddlers and to make safe all blinds fitted to windows or doors.
"It's heartbreaking to think that another child has lost its life in this way," he added.