Blinds that can cause accidental strangulation are removed from sale
In their joint control procedures, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) and the Finnish Customs have discovered several blinds that can result in accidental strangulation of children. Some of the warning signs and instructions for blinds have also been insufficient. The loops and cords of various blinds can be dangerous to children especially if a child is able to push his head through the loop. Thanks to monitoring and raising awareness of the matter, the safety of blinds has improved to a significant extent.
Tukes in co-operation with the Customs has carried out safety monitoring of blinds, which are already on sale or being launched on the market, since autumn 2011. A total of 23 different types of blinds have passed the assessment. The blinds were selected on the basis of their risk, i.e. whether they contained hanging loops or long cords. The blinds were inspected by the Customs Laboratory, paying particular attention to the hazard caused by the functional cords (pull cords) and loops to small children.
– Seven blinds revealed structural deficiencies and insufficient labelling, which caused a serious risk of strangulation to small children. Less serious deficiencies included partly missing warning signs and instructions, according to Anna Pukander of Tukes and Leena Partanen of the Finnish Customs Laboratory.
Blinds that contain a long, freely hanging loop made of strong material for opening and closing the blind pose the highest risk to small children. Markings are also of utmost importance in terms of safe use of the blinds, as well as the necessary device, which can be used for preventing formation of loops that are hazardous to small children.
The importers of the hazardous blinds have been demanded to carry out sufficient measures to ensure the safety of the products. The blinds must be accompanied by clear instructions for use and a warning of risk of strangulation, as well as sufficient device, such as wall brackets for hanging loops and cords. Hazardous products that are already on the market must also include warnings of the danger to consumers. Detailed information about hazardous blinds that have already been for sale is available in the Tukes dangerous product register: http://marek.tukes.fi/.
Over the years, there have been hundreds of fatal strangulation accidents caused by various window blinds and coverings in Europe and the United States. Tukes has provided instructions for manufacturers and importers on practices to improve the safety of these products and for consumers on the safe use of the products. Further information is available on the Tukes website.
Safe use of blinds in homes with young children
- Long cords and loops must be kept out of the reach of children, for example, by tying the cords around a hook attached to the wall or to some other attachment point suitable for the purpose. Long cords and loops must also be taken into account in blinds that have already been installed in the home!
- The long loop of a roller blind can be attached, for example, to an accessory that can be installed to the wall so that the loop will not hang loose.
- Observe the warnings and install the products in accordance with the installation instructions provided.
- Ordinary curtains or blinds with no loops or long cords are the safest choice of window coverings for children’s bedrooms.
- Also take into account the rest of the furnishings in the children’s bedroom so that small children will not be able to reach the loops and cords of blinds, for example, by climbing onto a table or other pieces of furniture.
Media representatives have the opportunity to examine the tested products at the Helsinki offices of Tukes (Opastinsilta 12 B) today, Monday 19 November at 13–15.00. Please register at the Aurinkoraitti information point.
Anna Pukander, Product Safety Manager, Tukes, tel. +358 (0)29 5052 165
Leena Partanen, Head of Unit, Finnish Customs Laboratory, tel. +358 (0)40 33 23261