Posts tagged ‘Borders’

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

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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