In the context of maintaining a safe dwelling in accordance with the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act, corded blind safety and maintaining blinds to a safe standard is an important issue.
The Residential Tenancies Authority reference Office of Fair trading stating that 12 children have died from curtain or blind cord strangulation over the past two decades.
Blinds installed after 2010 should have been manufactured and installed to current standards, however even with newly installed blinds field workers are finding some have low handing loops that have become detached from the wall anchor or safety devices used in the original installation.
Furthermore, blinds manufactured and installed prior to 2010 are notorious for having low handing cords that are a child safety hazard.
Our field workers will supply warning tags when they make adjustments to blinds. This is a great way to educate people about issues with blind cords and may help to identifying risks and prevent incidents. By far the best way to mitigate risks is to do everything possible to physically remove the risk, even if it means recommending the removal of a set of blinds altogether.
Following are some of the common bug bears with blind cords both new and old and some ideas on how to address these.
Low hanging loop with no safety break device or wall anchor.
Often window blinds will have a looped cord for the purpose of drawing the blind open or closed. If they were installed prior to 2010 it is possible that they were installed without any safety device whatsoever. Looped cords are by far the riskiest component of a blind in terms of child safety. This is because children have been found to put their head into the loop and then spin around which leads to a noose like scenario. Below are some examples of what loops look like when manufactured.
Low hanging loop detached from wall anchor.
Quite often wall anchors holding looped cords break or fall away from the wall. The image below is an example of a type of wall anchor that often breaks from general occupant wear and tear. In the instances where these types of products break we resolve by installing a new wall anchor.
Cords joined with tassel forming low hanging loop.
This is a very common problem with timber slatted blinds than can be found in many people’s homes. They may have been installed by the property owner or the tenant. Below is an example of this. The joining of cords with a tassel is equally as hazardous as a manufactured loop. In cases like this it is best to remove the tassel, ensure the cords are as short as possible without compromising the function of the blind, and install tassels for each cord such that all cords hang separately. Where cords need to hang below 160cm above the ground or in a position easily reached by children it is suggested that a high wall anchor be installed for the cords to be wound around.
Cords knotted forming low hanging loop.
This is an issue that is seen mostly with horizontal slatted blinds because cords are manufactured very long so blinds can be fitted to windows at any height. However, the surplus cord often becomes knotted over time and any kind of knot causing the cord to loop at a low length is equally as hazardous as a manufactured loop. Below is an example of this. To resolve this issue removing the knot, and make the cords as short as possible without compromising the function of the blind. Where cords need to hang below 160cm above the ground or in a position easily reached by children install a high wall anchor for the cords to be wound around.
Cords way too long for window position.
This is an issue because it leads to the above issue relating to knotting. Also it is not particularly safe to have any cord easily accessible by young children. Below is an example of where someone has tried to manage the long cords by bunching them and tying together. This is not a suitable way to manage the issue. To mitigate the risks associated with this scenario it is suggested that the cords be cut to a shorter length that is safe for children and still allows the blind to function correctly and easily. Where cords need to hang below 160cm above the ground or in a position easily reached by children install a high wall anchor for the cords to be wound around.