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A 22-month-old boy was admitted to the children's ward through Accident and Emergency (A&E) with accidental hanging from a window blind cord. On the day of the incident at around 18:30, the child was with his elder sister in a bedroom and his mother was in the kitchen. When his mother came back after about 4 min of absence from the bedroom, the child was found hanging onto a pull chain of the blind cord of the window. He was not breathing and was blue. His mother immediately picked him up and laid him on the ground; after about 20 s, he started breathing and his colour improved. When the paramedics arrived shortly after that, the child's breathing pattern had normalised. There were obvious strangulation marks on the front and side of his neck with multiple petechiae on the face. As the boy remained well overnight, he was discharged next day after ensuring that there was no safeguarding concern.
In the UK, it is thought that one or two young children die each year from blind cord strangulation.1 ,2 It is believed that there are probably many more under-reported near misses.1 ,2 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had reported that more than 200 infants and young children have died in the USA since 1990 from accidentally strangling themselves in window blind cords.3 Mortality rate in strangulation is very high.4 Research indicates that most accidental deaths occur in children aged between 16 months and 36 months old. Relatively larger heads, less rigidity of trachea and less developed muscular control compared with adults make these mobile children less able to free themselves once entangled.
Many millions of blinds are sold every year in the UK and looped blind cords are a potential hazard for babies and small children.2 The current European standard relating to looped blind cords advocates supply of safety devices in all cases. In 2000, CPSC and Window Covering Safety Council in the USA announced a voluntary recall of millions of window blinds to reduce the risk of strangulation.3
The British Blind and Sutter Association in association with the Royal Society for prevention of accidents have produced a ‘make it safe’ leaflet giving advice to eliminate the risk associated with hazardous looped window blind cords.2 ,5 The recommendations include installation of cordless blinds, use of short pull cords to keep it out of reach of children, use of safety devices and avoidance of placing child's cot, bed or high chair near a window.
Public awareness is crucial in minimising the danger to children; unfortunately, the campaign in the UK is far less compared with USA and Canada.1 It is hoped that a concerted campaign by the community practitioners and a voluntary agreement between manufacturers and retailers will eventually see an end to looped blind cords altogether. In the meantime, it is imperative that parents are educated about the hazards of window blind cords and appropriate safety devices are installed in homes with young children.
The authors would like to thank the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for providing valuable information.
Contributors MD prepared the draft of the manuscript, searched the literature and took consent from the parents. JC made important changes to the draft of the manuscript following his experience with a similar case earlier.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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