Parents of strangled toddler launch blind cord safety campaign

THE parents of a toddler who died after becoming tangled in a blind cord are helping launch a campaign to protect other children from the same fate.

Angus and Kate McLaughlin, whose two-year-old daughter Muireann died at the family home in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, in 2008, do not want other families to endure the same heartache they faced.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in Scotland says it hears about one or two children dying after becoming tangled in blind cords each year, and believes there are many more near misses.

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Mr McLaughlin said: "Muireann was a delightful, beautiful child and her death has caused utter devastation to our lives.

"We do not want what happened to us to happen to anyone else and strongly urge people to remove the kind of blinds with cords and replace with non-corded products."

Loops of cords hanging at waist height for an adult are near head height for some children, and can easily slip around their necks if they trip. Alternatively, if the loop is at floor level, it can become wrapped around the neck of a baby who is crawling.

RoSPA has even seen cases of babies accidentally strangled by cords hanging into their cots.

Jennifer Henderson, RoSPA Scotland's home safety officer, said: "With blinds already fitted in so many homes, it's important to raise awareness of the danger and how these accidents can be prevented.

"RoSPA is also continuing to work with the blind industry, government and standards bodies at a UK and European level to seek modifications to the design of blinds."

The campaign has been backed by Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, North Lanarkshire Council and the Safer Homes project, and funded by the Scottish Government, which aims to prevent the deaths of more young children in blind cord accidents.

The six-month pilot project is launched today, at Wishaw General Hospital, in North Lanarkshire, by community safety minister Fergus Ewing MSP.

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It will involve the distribution of leaflets and cleats, around which blind cords can be tied, to families with young children across North Lanarkshire.

Across the rest of the country, Home Safety Scotland will distribute leaflets raising awareness of the danger that looped blind cords pose to children.

Robert Scott, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue's area commander for North Lanarkshire, said: "Although fire safety is our prime concern, (we] are determined to reduce all kinds of risk.

"Strathclyde Fire and Rescue totally supports the campaign to make window blind cords safer.

"If firefighters carrying out home fire safety visits discover dangerous cords, they will give leaflets and advice to householders about how the cords can be tucked out of children's way."

David Roderick, North Lanarkshire Council's trading standards manager, said: "Our advice is simply to ensure that cords are always tied out of the way of children, which can be done by fitting a wall clamp. A looped cord is an unnecessary risk, but is easily remedied."