Blinds and curtain cords have long been among the causes of strangulation amongst children in Australia. Since 2000, there had been 12 reported fatalities due to such.
In order to curtail the risk, it has been mandated that all new corded blind and curtains must comply with the national safety standard. It came into effect in 2010. According to the mandate, corded internal window coverings are either:
- Corded blinds or curtains
- Traverse rod or track used with a window covering
On 28th March 2014, the safety standard that covers the installation services of window coverings was created and came into effect on 1st January 2015.
Safe use and installation of blinds and curtains
- Secure any looped or loose cords and make sure that they are not left hanging.
- Get rid of looped cords. Cut them and install tassels.
- As looped cords are necessary to some blinds, ensure that they are kept out of children’s reach by securing them with cleats or enclosing them with tension devices.
- Make sure that tension devices and tie-downs are fixed securely to the wall or window frame.
- The bottom of any blind cord is at least 160cm above the floor level as recommended by the Office of Fair Trading.
- Never put children’s highchairs, cots, playpens or beds near a window where children can reach the blind or curtain cords.
- Do not put pieces of furniture that children can easily climb near windows with corded blinds.
- Keep all cords out of children’s reach.
There are a lot of things in a household that can present risks to children, and blind and curtain cords are one of them as they can pose a strangulation hazard when children become entangled with them if they climb onto windows. They pose risks even to infants when cots are placed near windows where cords are just left hanging.
Never leave your children unattended especially in rooms where windows are easy to climb or when cords are not tied. Accidental strangulation can happen very quickly so it’s best to be always mindful of all potential hazards in your child’s surroundings.
Tips when buying blinds and curtains
- Look for warning labels and safe design features when choosing blinds and curtains.
- Choose blinds that do not require exposed cords to operate.
- Make sure that there is a way to secure cords to avoid children from reaching loops or strands.
As the owner of a rental property, it is the responsibility of the landlord to keep their tenants and their children safe.
It has been recognised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that blinds, curtains and any other window coverings pose a strangulation hazard for young children.
Owners were required to comply with The Trade Practices Mandatory Safety Standards of the Trade Practices Regulations 2010 starting 1 July 2011. Here, it states that having cords fitted with approved safety devices is a requisite to both residential and commercial rental properties with corded window coverings. Examples of these safety devices are hooks and safety tassels that prevent infants and young children from getting entangled in the cords by accident.