President's Perspective: Cut the cord, keep it high

What comes to mind when you think about childproofing your home? Maybe it’s installing a baby-gate at the top of the stairs or putting harmful cleaning products out of reach. Maybe it’s putting plugs in the electrical outlets.

Less obvious but dangerous and deadly household hazards are looped or long cords of window covering. These cords can create strangulation hazards for young children. Health Canada reports that between 1986 and January 2013, there have been 34 deaths and 26 near-fatal incidents involving children under the age of five.

Awareness and education are crucial to preventing more tragedies. Busy parents need to be aware of the strangulation hazards window covering cords can create, and know how to act to protect their children.

One solution is to go cordless. Choose alternate window coverings such as short curtains, especially in the children’s bedrooms, play areas and common areas throughout the house.

If you have window coverings with continuous looped cords, cut the cords to break the loops. This will create two separate ends. Then, when the blind is down or the drape is drawn, shorten the length of the dangling cords by cutting them.

Once the cords are shortened, make sure they stay out of reach! Move any tables, bookcases, chairs, benches or clutter away from windows that children might climb on to reach the cords. Use a large clothespin or paperclip to gather the remaining length of the cord near the top of the window covering. Or, put a hook or two nails in the wall near the top of the window covering, and wrap the remaining length of the cord around them.

Make a habit of regularly checking that cords are kept well out of children’s reach. A good idea is to set a reminder in your smartphone’s calendar to do this at least once a week. As well, put a sticker or label near your window to visually remind yourself to check that the cords are inaccessible to your kids.

Free retrofit window cord safety kits are available from the Window Covering Safety Council. More information is available at www.windowcoverings.org.  

Finally, talk with other parents, family members and friends about the hidden dangers of window covering cords. Being aware of this hazard and taking steps to eliminate it just might save a child’s life!

 

Safety. It’s an attitude.

Jack Smith