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Consumers (09-02-2011)

Consumers: Reducing the risk of child strangulation linked to window blind cords

Safety requirements for the cords/chains of window coverings were voted by Member State representatives meeting in Brussels today, 9/2/2011. Children can become entangled in hanging cords when playing, climbing or just exploring. It is estimated that at least two children die every year in such accidents.

These safety requirements are timely since there is evidence that fatalities are increasing. In 2002, 90 children visited the emergency departments in seven EU Member States for injuries caused by window blinds or drapery cords. More recently, 9 children in the EU, aged between 15 and 36 months, strangled in the cords of window coverings between 2008 and 2010. In the US, 119 children have died in a corded window coverings accident since 1999. In Canada, 28 fatalities were linked to the same products and in Australia at least 10 children have accidentally been strangled in the cord of a window covering since 2000.

The safety requirements voted today aim to ensure that internal blinds and other corded window coverings are inherently safe for children, eliminating the risk of strangulation and internal asphyxiation due to accessible cords and small parts.

These requirements also cover safety devices that can be installed by consumers to make existing blinds at home much safer.

The draft Decision will undergo the scrutiny of the European Parliament and of the Council (3 months) and will then be ratified by the College of Commissioners. Then the requirements will be sent to the European Standards Committee (CEN) who will develop the relevant standards.

This proposal is also a step towards a global alignment of safety requirements since the co-operation with international partners contributes to the development of ideas and sharing of best practice in the area of product safety.

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