Keeping the kids and grandkids safe

Two recent deaths in Manitoba and Quebec have prompted Health Canada to issue yet another warning to the public: protect young children from the strangulation hazard posed by cords on blinds, curtains and other window coverings.

As parents and grandparents know all too well, toddlers are by nature endlessly curious. Seemingly without fear, they climb and push at furniture, tantalized by anything out of their reach. And all too often, this combination paired with nearby cords dangling from window blinds can be deadly.

While many of the newer blinds on the market have been redesigned to reduce the risk of strangulation or come equipped with safety devices, there are still many blinds already in households that present serious safety hazards for young children.

The same cord and bead-chain safety devices supplied with many new window coverings are available from some department, hardware, and window covering stores to retrofit older window covering products. In addition, expensive safety devices, called cord stops, are available to stop dangerous loops from forming in the inner cords of window coverings – the inner-cords ar those which run through the slats of the blind.

“Strangulation from blind cords is preventable. Parents, grandparents and caregivers need to be informed and make modifications themselves to ensure the safety of blinds in their homes” said Morag MacKay, Director of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario’s program Plan-It-Safe on the hospital’s website.

Twenty-two deaths from children strangled on cords from blinds and curtains have been reported to Health Canada since 1989, according to Most of these children were under the age of three.

Health Canada recommends these safety precautions:

• Cut the cords short, ensuring that you get rid of the loop in the cord by cutting the chord in half. Whether the blind is up or down, make sure children can’t reach the cords.

• Tie the cord to itself. Cords can also be secured out of the reach of children by wrapping them around a cleat or hook secured high on the wall, or by holding the wrapped cord up high with a big twist tie, clothes pin or clip.

• Never put a crib, bed, high chair or playpen near a window or a patio door where a child can reach the curtain or blind cord and strangle.

• Don’t put sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases near windows to keep children from climbing up to reach the curtain or blind cord.

It is also important that these safety precautions are taken in the homes of friends and family members where a child is visiting. Children have died when they have been strangled by window blind or curtain cords during visits.

To assist in minimizing the hazards associated with these products, Health Canada has produced a demonstration video which depicts the actions people may take to keep the cords out of the reach of young children.

Also available is a static window cling that will serve as a reminder that window covering cords must not be left dangling. The window cling can be placed on windows fitted with corded window coverings.

The video may be viewed on line and the window clings ordered from Health Canada’s Blinds and Window Cords web page.

Free safety kits containing inner-cord stops, tassels, tie-down devices and a safety brochure with instructions are available from the Window Covering Safety Council by calling 1-800-506-4636 or visiting their website at

For additional safety information on window blind and curtain cords, please visit Health Canada’s Blinds and Window Cords web page or call 1-866-662-0666. E-mail inquiries may be sent to: [email protected] (it is requested you indicate the province or territory from which you are corresponding).

Other tips for childproofing your home
• Pad the hard, sharp edges of coffee tables and end tables that can pose a hazard to crawling babies and walking toddlers.

• Keep all fireplace accessories, fire wood and matches out of reach, making sure to pad the brick edges of a fireplace. And, of course, always keep the child away from the fireplace while a fire is burning.

• Cover all outlets to prevent an electrical shock.

• Window screens cannot support the weight of a child. Keep windows locked and keep children away from open windows.

• Keep electrical cords out of child’s reach by tucking them behind a piece of furniture when possible or by using a cord shortener.

• Cover powerstrips to prevent a child from accessing exposed outlets and pulling out plugs.

• Prevent a child from pulling furniture onto himself by securing it to the wall.

• Lock your VCR to prevent children’s fingers from getting stuck, and possibly cut.

• Give a baby only the toys that are suitable for his or her age. Keep the toys of older siblings out of reach, as they may pose a choking hazard.

• Move heavy and breakable items out of a baby’s reach.

• Regularly survey the area for potential choking hazards, such as buttons, coins, plant leaves and dirt, etc.

Find more information on the web: