Belfast mum warns of blind cord risk after toddler has lucky escape
A Belfast mum has warned of the danger blinds can pose to toddlers after her young daughter tangled her neck in a cord beside a window.
Lisa McKernan, a mother-of-five from west Belfast, said she would not have been alerted to the emergency if her little girl Ellen (2) had not managed to free herself.
"It was a good hour after bedtime and I hadn't heard any noise from the kids, so I decided to jump into the bath for half-an-hour," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"I heard a big bang from the other room. I ran in and saw Ellen holding her throat and crying - it didn't even sound like her at all."
One of Ellen's older brothers told her she had been playing with the blind cords minutes before.
"I took her hand away from her throat which is when I saw all the claw marks, a big red ring round her throat," Ms McKernan said.
"Then it hit me; she'd been hanging from it and managed to crawl free and the bang was her hitting her head on the corner of the bed.
"There was blood all over my hands, but thankfully she was okay. If she hadn't hit the bed I wouldn't have been alerted to it until I was out of the bath."
After bringing Ellen downstairs and applying ointment and ice packs to her neck, Ms McKernan said the reality of the situation hit home.
"I just sat with her trying to get my head around what happened," she explained.
"She was fine within a few minutes and didn't realise what she had done. Once she seemed okay then I wasn't okay. I freaked out thinking about what could have happened if she wasn't able to get herself free. I would have found her hanging. That night we cut every single blind cord in the house down."
She added: "Ellen's outgoing, athletic and intelligent. She knew she was in trouble and got herself out - I don't know how.
"We're very lucky she's as smart as she is and she's a very lucky wee girl."
Having taken weeks to come to terms with the near miss, Ms McKernan has urged others to avoid the same risk.
"Really, what you need to do is walk around your house looking at everything through a child's eyes," she said.
Posting about the ordeal on social media, she added: "This is an experience we would never wish on anyone and we are blessed to have her here with us today. It took us weeks to recover from the shock.
"The only priority in our lives is our children. Nothing else comes close. Hold them tight, as everything else is trivial in comparison."
The Public Health Agency says that since 2013 three deaths have been caused by looped blind cords in Northern Ireland. Working with local councils, the PHA launched a safety video last year showing the dangers blind cords can pose to young children.
The key advice included ensuring they were kept out of reach of young children and for looped blind cords to have safety devices installed.
Belfast City Council also offers free blind cord safety devices to the public.
They can be requested by calling 028 9091 8715.