Curtain and blind cord safety

Young children can strangle themselves with looped curtain and blind cords. Unsecured blind or curtain cords claim the lives of children every year...

Children do not understand that a cord/chain wrapped around their neck can tighten and strangle them in just a few minutes if they sit down, roll around or climb down to the floor. A child can place the loop over their head and/or get tangled in loose cords when they are in a cot or bed where cords are hanging, playing near cords, or standing on a chair, sofa or bed to look out of a window.

Steps for protecting children

Take these four simple steps to ensure that blind and curtain cords/chains are out of reach of children, particularly from children under six.

1. Check your blind and curtain cords.

Check for loose or looped cords that your child can reach from the floor or by climbing on furniture.

Immediately tie cords out of reach and move away any furniture children might climb on to reach them.

(Do this anywhere you are staying, including on holiday)

2. Secure your cords out of reach

Buy cleats or tensioning devices for securing cords from a hardware store or curtain and blind shop.

Use screws to fix each cleat or tensioning device in a place that is out of reach of children.

Never secure these devices with materials that may fail when a load is placed on them, such as double-sided tape or glue

(If you cannot fix your unsafe cords and chains out of reach yourself, get a reliable tradesperson to do it for you. If you are renting your home, seek help from your property manager)

3. Choose safe blinds and curtains

Buy new curtains and blinds which comply with the national mandatory standard, have warning labels to remind you of dangers to children and provide a way to secure cords/chains so there are no loops or strands that children can reach, or operate without exposed cords/chains.

For more information about mandatory standards, bans, recalls and emerging issues—and to subscribe to email alerts and RSS feeds—visit the ACC websites: www.productsafety.gov.au, www.recalls.gov.au or call the ACCC Infocentre: 1300 302 502. Callers who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment can contact the ACCC through the National Relay Service: www.relayservice.com.au. Voice-only (speak and listen) users phone: 1300 555 727 and ask for 1300 302 502.

4. Keep children away from all cords/chains

Move anything a young child can sit in, stand or climb on (like cots, highchairs, beds, sofas, tables, chairs and bookshelves) away from cords/chains—even those tied around a cleat, as your child may be able to untie them.

Do not let children play near cords/chains they can reach.

Never leave children alone in a room with cords/chains they can reach.

Tips for blind installation

Product Safety Australia has produced an installation guide to explain how either a cleat or a cord guide can be installed to keep loose cords secure.

  • When installing new blinds and curtains, make sure you or the installer secures any loose or looped cords—do not leave them hanging down.
  • If possible, get rid of looped cords by cutting the cord and installing tassels.
  • Some blinds can’t operate properly without looped cords. To keep them out of children’s reach you should secure these cords with either:
    • tie-downs (cleats) 1600mm above the ground, or
    • tension devices that secure cords and chain loops, which cannot form a loop of more than 220mm.
  • You can get tie-downs and tension devices from hardware or window furnishing stores.
  • Always fix tie-downs and tension devices firmly to the wall or window-frame so a child is not able to remove it. Never use materials that can’t support a load, such as double-sided tape or glue.

Check the safety of your home

  • Go through every room in your home and check for any blinds or curtains with long cords that are either loose or looped. Remember, this includes any cords within children’s reach at floor level or near furniture they can climb on.
  • Buy tie-downs and tension devices from hardware or window furnishing stores.
  • Do not put children’s cots, beds, highchairs or playpens near a window where children can reach the blind or curtain cords.
  • Do not place sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases near windows with corded blinds or curtains.
  • Check all window furnishings and place all cords out of children’s reach.
  • If you are living in a rental property, seek help from your landlord or agent to ensure cords and chains are out of reach as your landlord has an obligation to make them safe.
  • Always supervise children in any rooms with reachable blind or curtain cords. Accidental strangulation can happen very quickly, so never leave children alone in these rooms, even for a short while.
  • Also keep products with electrical cords, such as lamps and monitors, well away from babies' cots.

Free Blind Safety Kits

Consumer Affairs Victoria offers free safety kits which help reduce the risk of strangulation and can be ordered from Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 or visit their website: consumer.vic.gov.au. This safety kit is only suitable for roller blinds with looped cords and wooden window frames. For other types of blinds, curtains and frames, suitable safety devices are available from local curtain and blind retailers.

The free curtain and blind cord safety kit will help make looped curtain and blind cords safer in your home.

How will the safety kit help? The safety kit contains a device that tensions looped cords to a window frame so they are no longer loose, reducing the likelihood of strangulation.

What is in the safety kit? The safety kit contains five plastic devices with screws and instructions.

Information Sources:

ACCC Publications https://www.accc.gov.au/publications/blind-and-curtain-cords-safety-alert

ACCC Product Safety https://www.productsafety.gov.au/products/home-living/home-furnishings/blinds-curtains

Consumer Affairs https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/products-and-services/product-safety/curtain-and-blind-cord-safety

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are believed to be accurate at the time of posting. Any advice here is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek professional advice prior to acting on this information.