Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

'Stormont must help highlight home dangers'

Dean Regan Russell who died after choking on a blind cord in 2011
Dean Regan Russell who died after choking on a blind cord in 2011

They are a potential child killer – and are in thousands of homes in Northern Ireland.

The family of a toddler who died after becoming tangled in his bedroom blind has urged Stormont to tackle the increasing number of child deaths caused by blind cords.

The appeal comes as Daniel Grant, aged three, died at the weekend in an accident involving a blind cord.

Blinds have caused the deaths of more than 25 children across the UK and Ireland since 1999. Alarmingly, 12 of these incidents have happened since the start of 2010.

One of those struggling to come to terms with the death of a child in such circumstances is Londonderry man Martin Regan, who lost his grandson.

Dean Regan Russell – who was two weeks short of his second birthday – died five days after he choked on a cord at his parents' home in January 2011.

He was in his bedroom while his parents Joanne and Michael tidied away his toys at their Co Kerry home.

Despite being unattended for seconds, the toddler became tangled in the cord and lost consciousness in moments.

Mr Regan – from Bellaghy in south Derry – said the Executive must help raise awareness of the dangers blind and curtain cords pose to children.

He called for an ad campaign similar to that highlighting the dangers of carbon monoxide.

"Blind cord deaths are happening more and more," Mr Regan said.

"What we need to see is Stormont sponsoring an advertising campaign about this. The carbon monoxide publicity campaign was fantastic and as a result the message is getting through.

"People need to be aware of the dangers these blinds pose."

Mr Regan said the onus is also on retailers to inform customers of the dangers.

"People just don't know," he said. "My daughter's house was completely childproof on the face of it – fireguards, child-gates, locks on cupboards – everything you could think of.

"We didn't realise until Dean had his accident what these blinds can do." According to Mr Regan, a child trapped in a blind cord can die within just 18 seconds.

He said it takes two-to-three seconds for a child to lose consciousness, eight seconds for loss of brain activity and 10 seconds for heart failure.

He said: "That's the time to nip into a room, put on a kettle, answer the door."

Since 2004 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has put pressure on blind manufacturers to help reduce the risk of looped cords.

Mr Regan said he wanted to send his condolences to the Grants. He said: "I know what they are going through. God help them. It has brought them unthinkable pain."

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