Tragic toddler Daniel Grant (2) killed by blind cord
A two-year-old boy died just minutes after his neck got tangled in a rollerblind cord, an inquest heard.
The tragic accident happened as toddler Daniel Grant played with his older sister in the family playroom while his father and other children watched television next door at their home in Mayobridge, Co Down.
Little Daniel's accidental death during what was described as a "normal" family Saturday tea-time on February 23, 2013, is believed to be the second reported incident of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Now an awareness campaign aimed at parents, grandparents and childminders to highlight the dangers posed by blind cords to toddlers has been launched by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Northern Ireland and the Public Health Agency.
The little boy's distraught father Brian yesterday urged parents to take immediate action to ensure their home was safe from potential blind cord dangers.
He had described his second-youngest child as "everything that we could have wished for" and talked of how his "very happy, healthy wee boy" loved helping him plant flowers and young trees around the family's farm.
Speaking after an emotionally-charged inquest at Armagh Courthouse, the father-of-four said: "Never in an instant did we think that blind cords could take our wee Daniel.
"Our house was always protected and very safe with fences and gates.
"We did everything possible that we knew of to keep our children safe. But to to think something as a simple cleat could have saved wee Daniel's life.
"Now my wife and I would advise people to take action – don't put it off until tomorrow. Take action today to get blind cords safely attached to the walls."
Daniel and his older sister Niamh had been playing at the Bavan Road home in the room adjacent to where Mr Grant was, and the door was left open.
The father had just checked on the two children minutes before his daughter ran in and called on her Daddy to "come quick", just as his mother Paula arrived home from work.
It was initially thought that Daniel somehow climbed onto the window sill. However, Mr Grant said in his evidence to the inquest that he didn't believe his son would have done that, as he was a "cautious, careful child".
"We will probably never know how exactly this happened," Mr Grant said. "But we never knew Daniel to climb up on the sill before." The inquest heard that Daniel's parents were found trying to perform CPR on their son when the rapid response paramedic arrived within nine minutes, but he had no pulse or heartbeat.
The boy was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, where he was later pronounced dead.
Mr and Mrs Grant kindly donated their son's four heart valves just after his death, which were sent to help patients throughout the UK.
One minute he was playing happily... the next his frantic dad was trying to save his life
A "normal" Saturday tea-time at home turned into every parent's nightmare. A two-year-old boy died just a short distance from his watchful father as a rollerblind cord became a killer.
Somehow, this standard piece of interior furnishing in homes throughout Northern Ireland claimed the life of little Daniel Grant.
Just minutes, probably even seconds before his neck got entangled with a metal blind chain, Daniel had been happily playing with his older sister Niamh.
Despite his devoted parents Brian and Paula frantically performing CPR to resuscitate their second youngest, it was too late to save him.
Mr Grant, who runs a retail business, described how he was at home on the Bavan Road in Mayobridge with his family while his wife was working in a local hairdressers.
He had just made a tea of pizza and chips for his children and settled down to watch the second half of a rugby match on the TV with his oldest son.
The baby of the family lay sleeping in the pram, his wife was due home soon and his little son and daughter were playing in the room next to where he was, as they had done many, many times before.
The door to the room was left open and he was keeping an eye and an ear on their play, but this peaceful family scene became a full-scale medical emergency within minutes of his wife coming home.
The first anniversary of little Daniel Grant's death has just passed and his parents are still trying to make sense of how their son died, and why they weren't made aware of the dangers of blind cords to young children.
Yesterday at his inquest, the parents, supported by a large group of family members, just recalled Daniel as a "happy, healthy wee boy" who loved tractors and being outdoors.
"Daniel loved the outdoors, he loved planting wee flowers, daffodils and snowdrops and wee trees with me, as he would have been reared on the farm," said Mr Grant.
"He loved everything to do with nature, he was a very, very tuned-in wee boy for his age.
"He wasn't reckless at all, I wanted to make that point at the inquest.
"We will never know what happened that day, but it wasn't Daniel's nature to be up on the windowsill.
"Everything was well thought out and methodical, he always took his time at things.
"It's just a tragic, tragic accident. He was very special."
Mr Grant bravely spoke to journalists after his son's inquest on behalf of his family in order to prevent other parents experiencing a loss like theirs.
While the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates that at least 27 children in the UK had died in this way since 1999, it believes that many more have had near-misses.
A new EU-wide safety standard requiring all those involved in the design, manufacture, installation and sale of roller or curtain blinds to ensure safety measures and awareness to prevent children's death has just come into force.
RoSPA research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom to children aged between 16 months and 36 months old, with more than half happening at about 23 months.
Safety and training officer Colin Wallace said in his evidence it was possible that young children may have died as quickly as 18 seconds from a blind cord, according to another tragic loss of life of a young child in Co Cork.