How my four-year-old was nearly strangled by a window blind cord
At least 25 children in Britain have been strangled to death by cord blinds since 1999
12 of those deaths have occurred in the past three yearsIt takes just 20 seconds for a child to be killed by a blind cord
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Danger: The increase in the number of deaths involving blind cords similar to this one has led to campaigners calling on them to be banned
The Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says the figure could even be far higher as, since 2002, such deaths have been logged under the umbrella term ‘accidents in the home’. Consequently, RoSPA is largely reliant on reports in the press and information from coroners.
Not surprisingly, given the shock he’d had, Daniel said he’d lain awake for hours that night, replaying events and recalling the look on his brother’s face.
‘Christian was trying to cry but, because of the rope squeezing his throat, he couldn’t make any noise,’ Daniel told me the following day. ‘His eyes were wide open and he looked really scared.
‘I was panicking, trying to work out how to get him down. It was awful — like looking into the face of my dying brother.’
What chills me most is the thought that had Christian been alone in the room, albeit a mere six steps from where I was sitting, neither I nor the other mums in the house would have been alerted to the fact that he was being strangled to death because the cord must have been pressing on his voicebox.
We had been checking on the children regularly. In fact, my friend walked into the room just as Daniel was steadying Christian back down on the floor.
How fate has an unpleasant habit of mocking us. Only a couple of months ago, I read the sad story of Alexandra Lucy Hoegh — a recent victim of this killer in our homes — and thought: ‘Thank heavens my children are past that stage now: it’s one less thing to worry about’.
Alexandra, the three-year-old daughter of Morten Hoegh, one of Britain’s richest men, was found by her mother, Dana, lifeless in her cot, with a blind cord around her neck.
It is thought Alexandra had been playing with the cord of a window blind when she became tangled. Neighbours described how Mrs Hoegh ran screaming into the street outside her 12 million home in West London, begging for help.
That could so easily have been me.
I’ve always been a very protective mother, but with them all growing up, and Christian about to turn five, I’ve recently stopped watching them every single minute of the day.
And RoSPA does say that the majority
of children who suffer blind cord deaths are around two — an age when
they are mobile but have no sense of risk or danger.
children killed by blind cords are toddlers who have died in their
rooms at a time when their parents thought they were sleeping,’ says
RoSPA’s Michael Corley.
‘Our advice to parents is not to put blinds with cords in their children’s bedrooms.’
Home danger: There has been 12 deaths in the past two years where children under four have been strangled by cords of venetian blinds
Campaigners are lobbying the EU to get on with the job of ratifying new safety legislation to ensure all newly manufactured cord blinds come fitted with break connectors.
This would mean that the cord would snap when weight, like that of a child, pulls down on it.
Christian’s near-miss has left me paranoid about every potential threat to his safety. I’ve gone back to reminding him not to run up and down stairs, and to use the proper steps on our garden slide.
Over the past few days, Daniel has found roughly half a dozen opportunities to remind his little brother that he saved his life.
Brothers will be brothers, and I rejoice in the knowledge that they will still be reminiscing about Daniel’s heroism and Christian’s lucky escape over a pint in the pub when they are grown men.
Surely it is high time the EU rubber stamps this important legislation governing blinds. And that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles fully comprehend the lethal danger hanging at our windows.