Posts tagged ‘blind cords’

8 August, 2014

RoSPA’s top 5 tips to keep your sleeping baby safe

A new baby is the greatest gift imaginable. They bring joy and happiness (not to mention sleepless nights!) to parents, but with this gift comes added pressure.

baby_nappyNew mums and dads will have many questions buzzing around their heads.

Things like where is the safest place for baby to sleep? Should anything be in the cot with baby? What are the risks that babies face when they are asleep?

This blog looks at some of those issues and offers The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ top 5 tips to keep your sleeping baby safe.

 

1. Room temperature

Many parents may be aware that a baby’s room temperature should be regulated at between 16°C and 20°C as one of the key risks they face when going to sleep is “thermal stress”, or overheating.thermometersmaller

Having a basic room thermometer can often help in monitoring this as it is not always obvious to an adult what temperature a baby is comfortable at.

Thermal stress is thought to be one of the factors that can contribute towards Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) with “at risk” babies less able to adapt to changes in temperature.

Keeping a baby on their back with only suitable bedding in the cot is therefore recommended by many charities to avoid overheating. Keeping a baby’s head uncovered is also important as the head helps with temperature regulation.

2. Avoid soft toys and soft bedding in a cot

No soft toys or other products which cocoon your baby in any way are needed in a cot – these can, in fact, cause a hazard.toys

Snuggly and soft are often words used when marketing children’s bedding, but remember babies need ample oxygen all around them for their brains to develop.

Soft pliable bedding can mould around a baby’s face but they won’t know how to remove the bedding for themselves from positions of danger.

Sleeveless sleep sacks are a good choice as they keep a baby warm without the risk of them slipping underneath blankets in the cot.

If using blankets, make the cot up in the feet to foot position to help minimise the risk of your baby being able to slip under the covers.

3. Don’t clutter with extra products

Before adding extra products to a cot, which in themselves can add risk, it is worth remembering that the cot is the only piece of baby equipment designed for babies to be left in unsupervised (as they sleep).

All other equipment, like buggies and high chairs, are used under parental supervision.  As such, modern cots that comply with the latest safety standards are designed to be as safe for babies as possible.

There are a lot of products on the market that purport to protect baby when in the cot.  Cot bumpers, for example, are soft materials that are designed to sit inside the cot and are often attached to the cot bars with ribbons in order to protect babies from injuring themselves against cot bars. They are also marketed as being useful in preventing babies from getting their limbs stuck between bars.

However, cot bumpers may pose other hazards in several ways.  The ribbon can pose a strangulation hazard and this has been linked to at least one death in the UK.

 The bumper itself can be used as a foothold by more agile children to escape the cot, leading to a risk of falling. Also, the material may restrict the amount of oxygen that the child intakes – a process known as “rebreathing”.

The most extreme risk is that cot bumpers could pose a suffocation hazard if a baby rolls over with their face against the cot bumper and is then unable to move.

Nap Nanny_Consumer Product Safety Commission Pic

A Nap Nanny that has been linked to deaths in America.

Another product raising concerns in America is Nap Nanny, which has, sadly, been linked to the deaths of six babies. These products are used to place the baby in a reclined position to sleep and can also be used to “strap” the baby into their crib or on the floor, ensuring that they do not move around when they sleep.

 Some babies have suffocated on the inside of the Nap Nanny while others have partly fallen or hung over the side and been trapped between the product and cot bumpers, leading to suffocation in at least one case.

There is also controversy surrounding sleep positioners – foam wedges that manufacturers claim are suitable for babies to sleep in and aim to keep baby in one fixed position.

Be aware that if a baby manages to turn their body or slip down, then these products also present suffocation, thermal heating and re-breathing risks.  Baby’s face can get stuck against the foam and there have been many baby deaths attributed to these products.

4. Look out for packaging

nappy-sack-posterBe aware of the packaging that these products arrive in.

I have seen some that are supplied in drawstring bags and these present a strangulation risk to a baby. This adds a hazard immediately into the home over and above the product inside the bag.

Nappy sacks – plastic bags to place dirty nappies in – are also a concern.

RoSPA is aware of at least 14 babies in England and Wales that have suffocated or choked to death on this product.

Babies naturally grasp anything and put it in their mouths, so always keep nappy sacks, other plastic bags and wrapping away from babies and buy them on a roll if possible.

 

5. Be aware of blind cords

Finally, RoSPA is aware of at least 28 child deaths caused by blind cords and most of these accidental deaths occur in toddlers aged between 16-months and 36-months-old, so it is something to bear in mind as your baby starts growing.blinds_boy

The main issue that as a toddler start to get mobile their head still weigh proportionately more than their body, compared to adults, and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled in a cord around their neck.

RoSPA advice is to:

  • move beds, cots, highchairs and playpens away from windows where there are cords and chains
  • make sure all blind cords are always secured out of reach of babies and young children
  • move furniture that children can climb up on away from windows that have cords and chains.

I hope these tips can help you make informed decisions and I’d also recommend visiting The Lullaby Trust website for more detailed safe sleeping advice.

Being a parent is not easy but there is help and guidance all along the way.  The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone and to ENJOY this time as they will be 15-years-old before you know it!

Philip LeShirley, RoSPA Product Safety Adviser

15 July, 2014

When you suffer a tragedy in your life surely you would want to help others?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m Joy Edwards, and in October 2010 both mine and my family’s lives changed forever.  On this morning my son, who was 8, walked into the twins’ bedroom and discovered his baby sister Leah entangled in a looped blind cord.

I ran into the bedroom, raised my daughter to try and slacken the cord and untangled her.  The ambulance was called and paramedics soon arrived and took over CPR on Leah.

The ambulance and paramedics took our little girl and we followed after in a police car.  When we arrived at the hospital I knew straight away the news was not good as there was a security man outside the room. Watching too many Casualty and Holby City programmes you learn the procedure.

Leah was so cold and the colour had already started to drain from her tiny face.  I willed her to wake up; she was never a very good sleeper and all I wanted her to do now was wake up so I could take her home to her siblings and twin brother.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do is tell her brothers and sister that she wasn’t coming home.

Our last photo of our daughter was in the September when she had her first ice cream. It’s a photograph we will treasure.

After her death I decided that it would not be in vain and was determined to raise awareness about the dangers of looped blind cords.

When ROSPA called and asked whether I would help with their campaign, I agreed without hesitation – well, wouldn’t you? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ROSPA is a charity which relies on fundraising and charitable donations to raise awareness and prevent accidents.  Without donations they would not have been able to give away thousands of free cleats and safety packs to raise awareness and educate families on the dangers of blind cords.

They also campaign on risks around the home and the dangers of not wearing seat belts in vehicles, to name just a couple of things.

Accidents occur on a daily basis and many can be avoided.  Through raising awareness I hope the number of accidents can be reduced dramatically.

When I received a phone call to say I had been nominated for a RoSPA Guardian Angel Award I was out walking and I felt like I had a huge grin across my face.  All I thought of was “I am just a parent. Yes we had a terrible tragedy, but an award? Surely anyone in the same situation would do the same.”

When I start something I tend to carry on to the end. Even though new blind standards and regulations have been brought into force for manufacturers and fitters to adhere to, there is still more to do. Parents and grandparents who already have blinds in their homes still need to be educated on the dangers.

Joy AwardI was honoured on June 17 to be given the Archangel Award and was amazed at the standing ovation I received.

This is my first award and it has pride of place in our living room. Each time I look at it, opposite there is a photo of Leah smiling. I would like to think that she was proud too and that her death has prevented other families from going through the same heartache.

  • If you know of someone with an inspirational story like Joy, or someone who has worked tirelessly to improve the safety of those around them – whether they are a colleague, neighbour, friend or member of the community – we’d like to hear from you. Why not nominate them and show them just how much they are appreciated.
20 September, 2013

Accident prevention: we’re in it together

Through the centuries, Glasgow has been a hotbed of both enlightenment thinking and industrial activity. So where better to stage RoSPA’s 57th Occupational Health and Safety Awards?

Michael talks to a 2013 Award winner all about the accident prevention work which RoSPA undertakes in order to fulfill its mission: to save lives and reduce injuries.

Michael talks to a 2013 Award winner all about the accident prevention work which RoSPA undertakes in order to fulfill its mission: to save lives and reduce injuries.

The coming together of hundreds of the world’s best workplace safety practitioners at the city’s Hilton Hotel, yesterday (September 19), allowed RoSPA to reward much dedication and innovation – and to showcase some of the life-saving schemes that the UK’s best-known safety charity run on a regular basis.

As is now customary, RoSPA uses such get-togethers to rally support from those who are most likely to give it.

The same event last year raised enough money to help run two campaigns to stop more young children dying in window blind cord and driveway-related accidents.

This year, guests very generously donated almost £4,400. This money will go some way to ensuring that every child starting primary school in Scotland next year will receive a free book. The publication, penned by popular children’s author Linda Strachan, will help to keep tens of thousands of young ones safe from the hazards that pose the most risk to them.

But it’s a project that still needs the support of others to make it happen.

With your help, we can (and we will) make it happen. Such is the power of prevention – through the coming together of all those who are on the same mission: to save lives and reduce injuries.

Simply email FUNDRAISING@RoSPA.COM to find out more.

Michael Corley, RoSPA’s head of campaigns and fundraising

15 August, 2012

“Please don’t let our daughter’s death be in vain” – support RoSPA’s appeal and help save lives

Last Thursday, the 9th August, we would have celebrated the 7th birthday of our wonderful little girl, Muireann.

She was taken from us on the 5th February, 2008, when she accidently hanged herself on a looped blind cord which was hanging at the side of a window in her big brother’s room.

Muireann McLaughlin blind cord safety

Two-year-old Muireann McLaughlin died in 2008, after she accidentally hanged herself on a looped blind cord at the family home in Scotland.

Despite frantic attempts to revive her, her death was noted at 1630 hours by the A&E consultant – about five minutes after I found her. Her mum, Katie, was 16 weeks pregnant at the time and returned from an antenatal appointment to the shouting of our eldest two children: “Muireann’s dead, Muireann’s dead”. Kate arrived at the same time as her mum to watch me performing CPR. I can’t imagine what was going through her mind at the time; I can hardly remember what was going through mine.

The aftermath of this tragedy was profound. I described it as an emotional “tsunami”. Some people came to see us and couldn’t say anything; some people couldn’t come and have stayed away since because they don’t know how to say what they feel. The people in our village rallied around us as best they could and newspapers reported what information they could glean.

Admittedly, it was the most bizarre thing seeing our dead daughter’s face on the front page of national daily newspapers.

It was after the dust settled, and we were able to take stock of the enormity of what had just happened to us, that we decided that no parent should have to go through what we were going through.

We approached Gordon Banks, our local Westminster MP, and he launched a personal campaign to have the regulations governing the manufacture of these blinds investigated and changed in favour of safety rather than profit.

Angus McLaughlin blind cord safety

“We engaged with RoSPA to help us try to get the message out to parents, grandparents, schools, local councils and local government, in an attempt to make them aware of the dangers posed by looped blind cords” – Angus

We also approached our local procurator fiscal to push for a Fatal Accident Inquiry, or FAI, to investigate the circumstances of Muireann’s death. After Sheriff David Mackie delivered his findings we engaged with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to help us try to get the message out to parents, grandparents, schools, local councils and local government, in an attempt to make them aware of the dangers posed by looped cords.

We also engaged with Parents for Window Blind Safety, an organisation founded by an amazing lady, Linda Kaiser, who lost her daughter Cheyenne Rose in the same way in 2002. Linda has been extremely supportive offering what advice she can, but, with the differences in legislation between the UK and the USA, very little can be done by PFWBS other than provide us with information and friendship in tragedy.

We now realize how important it is to support charities such as RoSPA – which works hard to help keep children safe in all areas of life.

That’s why I agreed to issue a video appeal for RoSPA which was shown over three nights to guests of the charity’s Occupational Health and Safety Awards ceremonies, in Birmingham, in May.

The appeal helped to raise a significant amount of funds for RoSPA’s campaigning work – but more needs to be done to help save children’s lives.

As part of that appeal I am now supporting the launch of RoSPA’s text giving service. Please do offer your support by texting SAVE24 £2 to 70070.

8 August, 2012

The importance of communicating home safety messages during health visits – guest blog

Student health visitor Sally Tilley recently visited RoSPA to spend some time learning more about the charity, its work on child safety in the home and current campaigns. Here she shares her story:

For health visitors a child’s welfare is of ultimate importance; it is why we are here to do the job we do. Part of our role is to support parents to do the best for their children, promote health and safeguard. It is common for people to immediately think of us and our role in safeguarding in terms of preventing neglect, both physical and emotional. In fact, the definition of safeguarding is as follows:

  • Protecting children and young people from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of children and young people’s health or development
  • Ensuring that children and young people are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Undertaking that role so as to enable those children and young people to have optimum life chances to enter adulthood successfully.*
baby child safety in the home

“Health visiting is not about telling parents what to do, but more about supporting them to make changes, equipping them with the skills they need and empowering them with the information to do the best thing for their children.” – Sally Tilley.

When I visited RoSPA, I was surprised by the statistics, in particular the sheer number of accidents that happen to children in the home. It got me thinking, that as public health home visitors, we are in a prime position to offer advice on home safety and so by getting our message across, we may each be able to prevent just some of the many accidents that happen every year. For example, if we alert a family to the risks of hot drinks, medications and blind cords, we may be able to fulfil most of the above and reduce the costs both financially and emotionally to society and individual families. We already routinely give sleep safe advice to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death, as part of our standard care packages, so I thought why not do the same with blind cords?

Families are busy and having a new baby to look after can be both tiring and stressful, toddlers even more so! Most parents want the best for their children, but simply may not have considered the risks their home may pose or how their children’s natural inquisitiveness and development stages could lead to an accident.

Health visiting is not about telling parents what to do, but more about supporting them to make changes, equipping them with the skills they need and empowering them with the information to do the best thing for their children. That’s not to say that we would not bring up issues of safety if asked; we would help people to understand the risks and provide them with the information on how to minimise them. For example, at an antenatal visit we might say, “Have you had any thoughts about safety in the home?” or “What do you know about making the home safer for children?” to get them to talk about what they already know. They may say, “Well we’ve thought about buying safety gates and a child car seat”. We can then compliment them on what they already know, by talking about the correct use of safety gates and child car seats, saying something along the lines of, “I can see you’ve already thought about this, although you may not have been aware that blind cords can also pose a safety risk, however I have some information on how you can manage that too”.

At postnatal visits we might also talk about development and relate that to possible safety risks. A conversation may go something along the lines of, “I see your baby is rolling now, which is great, although it does mean he will keep you busy. Make sure he doesn’t roll into or off things, in fact, changing him on the floor is a lot safer” or “It looks like he’ll be walking soon, I can give you some tips on how to get ready for that by making your home safer”.

We have guidelines as to what to cover at standard visits, although visits are never the same and the process is not a tick box approach. Each family is different and a family may have different needs at each visit or at different stages of the child’s development. Often, there may be an unexpected crisis that needs to be dealt with. However, I think health visitors are always considering whether there are any concerns; it is part of our standard assessment framework to look at a child’s developmental needs, parenting capacity and family and environmental factors. Child safety in the home is encompassed by this framework and health visitors are generally skilled at searching for health needs and recognising where prevention or promotional advice is required.

child safety in the home

“The RoSPA leaflets that I was able to take away with me have been very useful for striking up a conversation about safety with clients. If I can pass on this valuable information to a family, it may just make a difference to the health and wellbeing of a child by helping to prevent an accident” – Sally Tilley.

Most families are receptive to advice and grateful for suggestions but, of course, if a situation is considered as dangerous and families are not receptive to advice and do not put the needs of the child first (and very often there are other concerns in a case like this) we can express our concerns to social care who would look at the whole picture before deciding on any action. This would generally be discussed with the family before enabling them to understand what the concerns are. A referral may actually mean more support can be offered if a family is struggling to keep their child safe from harm.

We may not be able to cover everything in one visit, but we can develop relationships and tackle things in several visits, through leaflets and at clinics. Sometimes the team organises group sessions that cover safety issues and we promote these sessions on visits. However, we can only advise within the scope of what we know and that’s where evidence-based, standardised information and advice from an organisation such as RoSPA could come in.

I have been lucky to undertake a study day on child safety in the home with RoSPA and it has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to recognise risks and to know how to minimise them. In fact, the leaflets that I was able to take away with me have been very useful for striking up a conversation about safety with clients. If I can pass on this valuable information to a family, it may just make a difference to the health and wellbeing of a child by helping to prevent an accident. After all, that’s what we are there to do.

Do you want to find out more and to support RoSPA’s public health campaign? Visit www.rospa.com/about/currentcampaigns/publichealth/

*Taken from The Children’s Act, HM Government, 2004.

By Sally Tilley, student health visitor

20 March, 2012

Amber teething necklaces – is your child at risk?

It is a common conundrum for parents all around the world – what is the best method to help soothe my baby? While there are many ways and means out there which are both safe and effective, from gentle rocking to a tuneful lullaby, RoSPA has noticed a worrying new trend emerging among parents who are opting to use amber bead teething necklaces.

Amber teething necklace

An example of an amber teething necklace.

These eye-catching beads are made from natural Baltic amber and are placed around a baby’s neck to help soothe the pain of teething. While there is evidence to show that these beads can have an analgesic effect, there are some very serious hazards associated with the product which we wish to make parents aware of.

Baltic amber contains between three and eight per cent succinic acid. Those that subscribe to this method of soothing argue that the acid, which has been shown to stimulate neural system recovery and bolster the immune system, is released from the beads and into the baby. The succinc acid is said to have an analgesic effect, reducing the pain of teething.

While RoSPA is not in a position to comment on the accuracy of these claims, in the past concerns have been raised about amber teething necklaces representing a choking hazard. The main concern relates to the beads and clasps which can become detached. There are also inherent strangulation hazards associated with having any type of cord placed around a child’s neck, especially babies. Some proponents have argued that the risk of strangulation is mitigated by only allowing the baby to wear the necklace when he/she is awake and under supervision. RoSPA does not support his view. Aside from the fact that babies spend a substantive part of their time sleeping, RoSPA does not advocate any cord being placed around any baby’s neck at any time. Our ongoing work on the risks posed by blind cords highlights the terrible tragedies of infant strangulation and the speed at which it can happen.

amber teething necklace baby

Amber teething necklaces are placed around a baby’s neck to help soothe the pain of teething – but it could pose a choking hazard.

RoSPA is fully aware of the stress parents can be under when their babies start teething, but there are many other options out there to help soothe teething pain, such as the use of medically approved creams applied directly to the gums. Other methods include teethers and teething toys which are often filled with a liquid and are sometimes kept refrigerated before being given to a baby to chew on. In all cases, RoSPA advises parents to seek advice from health workers (even before the baby is born) on the best and safest ways of soothing teething pain.

There have been cases of amber teething necklaces being taken off the UK and European market some years ago due to choking hazards. In RoSPA’s view, the biggest problem is that these necklaces are widely available on the internet, but the fact that these products are being offered for sale and delivery to your home does not mean that they are safe for your baby.

If consumers have concerns about any products they have seen advertised, contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline, on 08454 04 05 06.

Philip Le Shirley, RoSPA’s product safety adviser.

6 June, 2011

Safe at Home: A Two-Tier Success

Following on from Michael Corley’s recent blog post – Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics – about accident prevention, it seems that the topic of today’s blog post is entirely appropriate as an illustration of how accident prevention can work.

In 2009, RoSPA launched the Safe At Home scheme (funded by the former Department for Children, Schools and Families), which had the aim of reducing accident rates among under-fives through targeted support for families in 141 areas in England with the highest accident rates.

Support included the provision of home safety information and safety equipment, such as safety gates, fireguards and window restrictors, through a network of new and existing local home safety equipment schemes. RoSPA also trained staff working at the local schemes.

The scheme has been incredibly successful, exceeding its target of supplying safety equipment to 60,196 families. The final figures show that the total number of families to receive free equipment by March 31, 2011, when the scheme came to an end, was an impressive 66,127.

This type of venture is a great example of how the Government’s “Big Society” could work at its best. It’s also a great antidote to those who wail about the “nanny state” and “busybodies” – those who have benefited from the scheme tell a very different story

You see, raising awareness of risk is NOT the same as telling people what to do in their own homes. If you’re a new parent, or are not around small children very often, it’s unlikely that you’ll know about the hazards toddlers face in the home.

Getting down on your hands and knees and looking at the world from their point of view paints a very different picture – and reveals a multitude of hazards that were not apparent before.

For instance, before I started working at RoSPA, I had no idea that blind cords could pose any risk to children (or my cats!) – and why would I, without being told? I’ll always make sure I tie cords away with a cleat in the future – which is all that is required if, like me, you like blinds that require cords.

Accident prevention is not about banning things left, right and centre and it’s not about stopping people from having fun; it’s about raising awareness of the risks and taking reasonable steps to mitigate them – as well as improving industry safety standards. Our blind cord safety campaign is a good illustration of the type of work we do.

Presenting people with good advice and information, and allowing them to make their own choices about how to protect their families, enables them to take responsibility for their own safety without having outside “experts” tell them what to do.

All accident prevention work should be based on sound data, to ensure that time, money and resources are not wasted on interventions that target the wrong people, or are simply unlikely to work.

The statistics mentioned earlier enabled us to target the Safe At Home scheme at those who needed it most. In order to qualify to receive equipment, families with children aged 0-5 must have been living in an area covered by a participating project, and must also have been in receipt of certain benefits.

The evidence shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be injured or killed in accidents. And in fact, shockingly, children of parents who are long-term unemployed or who have never worked are 13 times more likely to die as a result of unintentional injury and 37 times more likely to die from exposure to smoke, fire or flames than children of parents in higher managerial or professional occupations.

By installing a few simple safety measures such as smoke alarms, stair gates and window restrictors, the quality of life for these families could be vastly improved at no cost to themselves, and little cost to society – compared with the vast amount of money accidents and injuries cost us all.

It is hoped that the Safe At Home project has enabled local communities to run their own sustainable projects now the national scheme has come to an end.

More details about the achievements of Safe At Home will be announced when the project’s evaluation report is published in the next few weeks.

In the end, accident prevention advice and information could save the life of one of your family members. If you talked to someone who had lost a child in a home accident, you would probably find they had a very different perspective from the “elf ‘n’ safety” myths whipped up by some sections of the media.

Prevention is always better than cure. This applies to accident prevention as much as anything else. Join the debate – and support our campaign today.

Vicky Fraser, RoSPA’s Press Officer/Web Editor

11 April, 2011

Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire launch the Make it Safe campaign

I started off at the Scottish Borders launch at Newtown St Boswells on March 11, which was attended by some of the partners who will be distributing the cleats.

Officers from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service were present, as was Paul Richardson who works for Scottish Borders Council Safer Communities Team. Thanks must go to Paul for organising this launch and being a key figure in the Borders campaign.

Councillor Alec Nicol (Chair of the Scottish Borders Safer Communities Partnership) was also in attendance and gave his full support to the campaign. Councillor Frances Renton, who is Chair of the Scottish Borders Childcare Partnership also supported the launch and will play a key role in spreading the safety message whenever possible.

Make it Safe leaflets and cleats will be distributed throughout nurseries in the Borders, and children from the playgroup next door to the launch came to visit, and happily stood for a few photos with us:

L-R: Councillors Alec Nicol and Frances Renton and Jennifer Henderson of RoSPA

South Lanarkshire launch

The Make it Safe launch from First Step Community Nursery in Hamilton on March 17 was attended by the partners who are making up the steering group:

  • Margaret Brunton, South Lanarkshire Council’s home safety officer
  • Sandy Gillespie, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue’s group commander community safety
  • John Gold, Care and Repair
  • Maggie Barrie – head of establishment at First Step Community Nursery.

It was really good to meet all the partners at the launch, as well as parents and grandparents of local children who came to visit. Everybody who attended was so enthusiastic about the campaign and was thankful for being invited to the launch – and one of the parents and one grandparent got more than they bargained for when they ended up on film for South Lanarkshire Council’s YouTube page!

There were lots of lovely cakes on offer which kept us all going in during the launch itself, the photographs that were taken and our stints behind the camera for YouTube. The link to their YouTube site is http://www.youtube.com/user/SouthLanarkshireTV.

It’s really gratifying to see that the campaign is being embraced so enthusiastically – and it appears to be very successful in raising awareness. An evaluation of the pilot project that took place in North Lanarkshire should that 63 per cent of cleats had already been fitted in homes at the time of the survey.

Since receiving the Make it Safe information, 60 per cent of respondents said they were now unlikely to buy any blinds with looped cords, while 43 per cent of respondents were not aware of information on blind cord safety before they received the Make it Safe information.

Perhaps most crucially, 69 per cent of respondents have gone on to discuss the risks of looped blind cords with other parents or carers.

It’s vital that we keep the topic front and centre in the field of home safety, because blind cords are such an innocuous everyday item that it wouldn’t occur to most people that they could be a danger. Thanks to everyone for all their hard work!

Jennifer Henderson

RoSPA Scotland’s Home Safety Officer

4 April, 2011

RoSPA’s blind cord campaign is extended in Scotland

Following the success of the Make it Safe pilot campaign in North Lanarkshire, I was delighted that we secured further funding to allow us to build on the original project and roll it out to new areas in Scotland.

We launched the Make it Safe campaign at the Saltire Centre in Glenrothes on March 21 and secured a decent amount of publicity. I did a couple of radio interviews and the detail of the project was covered in the local press.

On the day I was, of course, impressed by Fife Council’s commitment at a strategic level but what was really evident on the day was the support being given by those who are actually going to be in a position to speak directly with householders.

Many different types of practitioners can offer home safety advice to support the messages that organisations like RoSPA can highlight, but the messages are much more effective when someone is standing in your house saying: “Look, this is what I’m talking about.”

The people who are supporting the campaign in Fife are well-respected by those that they visit. As well as the council’s team of home safety advisers, it’s great to have health visitors, social workers, family support workers and public health nurses standing alongside local representatives of organisations such as Gingerbread and the Scottish Childminding Association. These dedicated people are all keen to ensure that families are aware of the danger posed by corded blinds – products that are probably installed in the majority of homes.

L-R: Sam Pairman (Fife Cares), Bob Arnott (Safer Homes Task Group), Elizabeth Lumsden (RoSPA), Margaret Caldwell (Public Health Nurse), Mark McCall (Fife Community Safety Partnership)

A key part of this campaign is that we can work with local partners to ensure that advice and education is given directly to the parent or carer, and where appropriate we can actually ensure that the cleats (to tie the cords around) are fitted properly. For example the Fife Cares Child Safety Scheme will provide home safety advisers to discuss the dangers posed by blind cords with parents and carers of young children. This award-winning initiative is part of Fife’s Community Safety Partnership and also provides other child safety equipment as part of a free service.

Fife’s launch last month was also attended by Margaret Caldwell, a public health nurse whose work with the Scottish Government has resulted in an estates and facilities alert issued across the UK to highlight that corded blinds are not only an issue in the homes of the general public but could also be a danger in health care premises such as health centres and doctors’ waiting rooms. It emphasised that risk assessments should be carried out in all premises where children have access and not just kept to those that are health service-related.

We’re really pleased that the expansion of the campaign is going so well, and that people seem to be taking the advice on board.

Elizabeth Lumsden

RoSPA’s Community Safety Manager for Scotland

17 March, 2011

Make it safe!

RoSPA’s blind cord campaign is being expanded in Scotland this month with an awareness-raising initiative rolling out to Borders, Fife and South Lanarkshire.

The expansion of the blind cord campaign, which distributes leaflets and cleats (around which blind cords can be tied), builds on a pilot project undertaken in North Lanarkshire last year. Further funding from the Scottish Government has made the roll out possible, and all three of the new projects will run for six months from April to September.

In North Lanarkshire, it was really encouraging to see that people were talking about the information they received through the project, and were helping to spread the word about the dangers of looped blind cords. We are hopeful that the three new projects, which are delivered by local partners, will have the same impact.

Work to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords is not just ongoing in Scotland. My RoSPA colleagues in England are also distributing Make it Safe packs to organisations working with children in England, and individual members of the public from across the UK can also request them via the RoSPA website.

My colleagues report that there have been more than 46,000 requests for packs through this part of the campaign sign up now to receive yours.

Typically, we hear about one or two children dying after becoming tangled in blind cords in the UK each year. Tragically, 2010 saw an increase in the number of accidents.

We suspect that there are many near misses that are never reported, but this information would help us to better raise awareness of the issue, as well as telling us more about the circumstances in which such accidents can happen.

One such near-miss accident happened to Beth Clifford – but thankfully her mum got there in time. The experience shook the family up, and encouraged them to spread the word about the dangers of blind cords. You can read the family’s story on RoSPA’s website.

So what can you do to make your home safe?

RoSPA is currently working with the UK government, the blind industry and retailers to ensure that an amended European Standard to make new blinds safer (expected to come into force in the second half of this year) can be implemented with as much success as possible. Alongside this, the blind cord industry is also working with the British Blind and Shutter Association to try to develop blinds that work without looped cords – and some families are calling for a ban on the production of blinds with looped cords.

This is an understandable and admirable goal – but it doesn’t address the existing problem. This is where our awareness-raising campaign in Scotland, and the one on which my England-based colleagues are working, come in. There are 100million blinds in homes throughout the UK, and any ban will not affect them. So we need to make people aware of the dangers, and encourage families to tie the cords up out of harm’s way.

To reduce the risk posed by looped cords, including blind cords, cords should be kept out of the reach of children:

  • Install blinds that do not have a cord, particularly in a child’s bedroom
  • Do not place a child’s cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and kept out of reach
  • Tie up the cords or use one of the many cleats, cord tidies, clips or ties that are available
  • Do not hang toys or objects that could be a hazard on the cot or bed
  • Don’t hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring.

RoSPA does not recommend that cords are cut, even as a short-term solution. It is advisable that any action taken on the blind cord is a permanent one which will take the cord out of reach of children. It is not an expensive task and a limited number of cleats are available to those who need them via the RoSPA website.

Cutting the cord in the wrong place can make the blind inoperable; and it may also lead to one cord becoming a lot longer which increases the risk of entanglement. Cut cords can also become tangled up resulting in the reformation of a loop.

The problem

Research indicates that most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in the bedroom and occur in children between 16 months and 36 months old, with the majority (more than half) happening at around 23 months. These toddlers are mobile, but their heads still weigh proportionately more than their bodies compared to adults and their muscular control is not yet fully developed, which makes them more prone to be unable to free themselves if they become entangled. In addition, their windpipes have not yet fully developed and are smaller and less rigid than adults and older children, making them suffocate more quickly if their necks are constricted.

Visit RoSPA’s campaign pages for more information.

Liz Lumsden

Community Safety Manager for RoSPA Scotland

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