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Strangulation risks

Your child is at risk of being strangled by anything that's put around their neck.

This includes:

  • cords and chains on blinds and curtains
  • strings and cords on clothes and wall-mounted lamps
  • strings on household items
  • chains, ribbons and strings on soothers
  • bibs
  • headbands
  • hairbands
  • jewellery, including teething jewellery
  • electrical cords and wires
  • ropes
  • fixtures, furniture and fittings

Older children may share unsuitable objects with your child.

Do not allow children to play with string, cords, jewellery or ropes.

Clothes

Any item near the neck of a child could get caught.

Do not dress your baby or young child in:

  • clothes with strings or cords attached, like hoodies with drawstrings or ties on hats
  • jewellery, including teething jewellery
  • belts
  • ribbons
  • headbands
  • hairbands
  • clips
  • ties

Only use a dressing gown with a short belt that is securely attached to the gown.

Do not attach strings, ribbons or chains to soothers.

Related topic

Clothes safety for babies and children

Bibs

Remove bibs once your child has finished eating and before putting them down to sleep.

Jewellery

Do not put jewellery, teething jewellery or ribbons on a child under the age of 3.

Related topic

Amber teething jewellery

Blinds and curtains

Cords and chains on window blinds, door blinds and curtains can strangle children and cause death.

They are a risk to all children, particularly children under the age of 3. Cords and chains with loops are a particular risk.

Remove all curtains and blinds with cords or chains from your home. Replace them with blinds or curtains that have no chains or cords.

This information is a guide only. Check with your blind or curtain supplier if you are unsure about the safety of your blinds. Ask them any queries you have.

Buying new blinds or curtains

Buy cordless blinds, pull up blinds or curtains. Cordless blinds are blinds with no cords or chains. Some cordless blinds include a wand to pull them across.

Ask the shop staff if any blinds or curtains you buy meet current safety standards.

Keep wands out of reach of your child to prevent eye injuries.

If you are buying blinds with a safety device, check that the device meets current safety standards. Make sure it is fitted at the same time as the blind.

Follow the manufacturers instructions and warnings if you are fitting the blinds yourself.

Blinds and curtains - dangers to look out for

Check every blind or curtain on your windows or doors for:

  • cords or chains
  • hidden cords or chains
  • inner cords or chains
  • bottom chains
  • curtains ties
  • curtain tape

If a cord or chain is within your child’s reach, it is a danger. Cords and chains with loops are a particular risk.

Be particularly mindful of your child's bedroom, playroom and any other room they spend time in.

Check blinds and curtains in other places outside your home that your child might spend time. For example:

  • child minders
  • grandparents
  • friends and family
  • hotels
  • restaurants
window-blind-cords-can-strangle
Window blind cords or chains can strangle

Hidden cords or chains

Not all cords or chains are at the side.

Check the front, side, inside and back of your blind or curtain for cords or chains. Roman blinds are an example of a blind with cords on the back.

back-of-blinds
Roman blinds have cords on the back. These can strangle your child

Inner cords or chains

Inner cords or chains are in some types of blinds. They hold parts of the blinds together. They are usually within the blinds or at the back. Inner cords are a strangulation risk to children as they can form loops.

inner-cords-on-a-blind
Inner cords or chains on blinds can strangle your child

Bottom chains

vertical-blinds-bottom-chain
Vertical blinds usually have a chain at the bottom that form loops and could be a strangulation risk

Vertical blinds usually have a bottom chain. This is is sometimes called a spacer chain. It is usually made of plastic, or sometimes metal. Bottom chains could be a strangulation risk to children because they are in a loop and may get caught around a child's neck.

Curtain tie-backs

Curtain tie-backs hold curtains back from the window when the curtains are open. They are a strangulation risk to children.

They create a loop to hold the curtain back. A child's head could get caught in this loop.

Remove these tie-backs if you have them. Store them out of reach of children.

Curtain tape

Curtain tape is used to form pleats in curtains. It contains strings or cords that you pull. These strings or cords are a strangulation risk to children.

Keep curtain tape and their cords or strings out of reach of children.

What to do if you have blinds or curtains with cords or chains at home

Remove every blind or curtain with cords or chains from your home. Replace them with cordless versions instead. For example, blinds with wands.

If it is not possible to replace them, you can help reduce the risk to children by:

  • using a working safety device that meets safety standards
  • not putting any furniture near a blind or curtain as children love to climb
  • removing any curtain tie-backs and storing them out of your child's reach

Make unsafe blinds and curtains safer

If you choose to keep your blinds or curtains with cords or chains, you can buy and install safety devices to keep them out of your child's reach.

Safety devices such as cord or chain tie-downs can pull the cord or chain tight and secure them to the wall or floor. This helps to prevent the risk of strangulation.

Other safety devices for blinds include:

  • cord and chain tidies
  • cord tension device
  • chain break connectors
  • inner cord or chain stops
  • breakaway devices
  • blind cord cleats
safe-blind-cord
A tie-down or tension device can help make a cord or chain safer

You can buy these child safety devices from companies that specialise in blinds. Talk to them about what is best for your situation.

Check that the device you choose is:

Keep cords and chains at least 1.6 metres off the ground. But remember your child could still reach a cord or chain if they climb on furniture.

Keep furniture away from blinds or curtains

Check that furniture is not near windows and doors.

Your child could climb up on furniture and get caught in the cord or chain. This is why the safest option is cordless blinds or curtains.

Using a safety device will reduce the risk of strangulation for your child - but it won't get rid of the risk entirely. Even if you use a safety device to keep the cord or chain out of a child's reach, the child may still reach it if they climb on furniture. 

Never put your child near a window or door with a blind or curtain if they're in a:

  • cot
  • bed
  • playpen
  • high chair

Keep sofas, chairs, tables, shelves, toy boxes, bookcases or similar furniture away from windows or doors with blinds and curtains. This can help prevent children from climbing up and reaching cords and chains.

You should share this information with anyone who looks after your child.

Wall lamps with cords

Keep cords on wall-mounted lamps out of reach of young children. Keep them away from their cot, bed, high-chair and playpen.

Cots and beds

Strangulation or accidental hanging can happen when a child's head or neck is caught up in:

  • clothing
  • gaps between the mattress and the cot or bed
  • rope tied to or near their cot or bed

Never tie belts, dressing gowns, ropes, cords or skipping ropes to a child's bed to store them. Do not hang bunting or other items on your child's cot or bed.

Be careful using second-hand or older cots and equipment. They may not meet current safety standards.

Related topic

Cot death

Furniture and household items

Beware of the risk of your child getting trapped or strangled by:

  • the bars of cots
  • furniture with gaps
  • stair banisters
  • railings

Keep electrical and lamp cords away from cots, beds, high chairs and playpens.

Make sure all string, ropes, cords and jewellery are out of your child's reach.

Related Content

page last reviewed: 16/05/2019
next review due: 16/05/2022