PARENTS have been warned that their child could die in a matter of seconds if they become tangled in blind cords at home.
The stark warning was issued as accident prevention and home safety experts gathered along with local blind suppliers and fitters for a special event in Derry this week.
The Blind Cord Safety Seminar took place at the Guildhall on Tuesday.
The packed event was organised by Home Accident Prevention (Foyle), the Public Health Agency and the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents (RoSPA).
Speaking at the seminar, Deputy Mayor Gary Middleton said: “One of the first things that many people in this city would have done this morning was to open their blinds. It’s probably fair to say, that most of those people wouldn’t have considered their blinds to be dangerous, but of course, as you will be aware, if they are fitted with looped cords or chains, there is a very real risk that they could harm young children.
“I am informed that since 1999 at least 27 children have died as a result of blind cord accidents across the UK.”
Research indicates that most such accidental deaths happen to children aged between 16 and 36 months old.
A booklet issued at the event a letter from the mother of little Dean Regan Russell, who died in Kerry after becoming tangled in a blind cord in 2011 just before his second birthday. Dean’s grandfather Martin Regan comes from County Derry, and has previously spoken out to raise awareness.
In the letter, Dean’s mother Joanne states: “We were completely unaware of the dangers of window blinds possessed. To this day we are still grieving the loss of our son, we still miss him so much, we speak of him every day, speak of the memories that make us smile when our hearts are ready to explode from the pain of losing our beloved boy.”
Colin Wallace, training and development officer with RoSPA, urged people to fit blind cord safety attachments.
He said that people should look for the current blind safety attachments that conform to the new regulations when purchasing blinds from suppliers and fitters.
Additional simple steps, he said, included taking furniture away from blinds so children could not climb up to them and making sure the child’s bedroom was safe, as this was a blackspot for blind cord deaths.
Paul McDermott from family-run Springtown-based business Fiesta Blinds, said they installed the safety features when fitting blinds as a matter of course.
Mr McDermott said a lot of people simply were not aware of the dangers.
“You don’t think about the cord as being something that is dangerous, but there have been deaths. The latest death as just a few weeks ago, a wee kid in England strangled by a cord.”
For more information on the issue go to: www.rospa.com