A mother is warning parents about the dangers of window blind cords after her son was almost strangled trying to "make a necklace."
In a Facebook post, Utah mum Arika Hernandez explained that she had debated whether or not to share details of her three-year-old boy's terrifying accident but felt it could prevent the loss of young lives. "I believe if this post saves one child's life it's worth being vulnerable." she wrote.
According to Ms Hernandez, "On January 7, our son climbed up to the top bunk bed and wrapped the blind cords around his neck." When the toddler began walking down the ladder, the cords tightened. "He panicked and tried to yell for mum and dad but nothing came out."
The little boy desperately scratched at the cords but couldn't free himself. "At the last attempt to get free he jumped to come get us and that very jump saved his life!" Ms Hernandez wrote. "The cord snapped and freed him! We heard a loud thud (his jump) and then his loud scream!"
And it was a sound she will never forget.
"This was not just any scream," Ms Hernandez said. "It is one I have never heard in my life and it will forever be ringing in my ears."
The three-year-old was taken to ER where the relieved mum says doctors were "shocked and concerned"."These blind cords are not meant to break. It was not his time to go," she said. Ms Hernandez urged parents to act, noting that these accidents can be prevented and that you can never be too safe in your own home.
"Please please please take my message and take action now!!" she said. "Even if you cut the cords, once the blinds are lifted up it creates a hazard. The cords can not be cut short to make them safer... there are still inner cords and if the cord is pulled so the blinds go all the way up, that pull cord will then be long enough to make a loop & strangle a child."
And warning kids about the dangers simply isn't enough. "Kids will be kids and they explore," Ms Hernandez said. "My son told me he was making a necklace and that's why it was around his neck."
Urging others to share her message, Ms Hernandez wrote, "Please help me save the next kid. Most importantly hug the people that mean the most to you. Be grateful you have another beautiful day with them."
Tragically, blind cord injuries aren't uncommon. Last year, a study published in the journal Pediatrics, examined fatal and non-fatal window blind–related injuries among US children younger than 6 years of age. From 1990 to 2015, there were approximately 17,000 with entanglement injuries accounting for 11.9 per cent. One third of these resulted in death.
"Despite existing voluntary safety standards for window blinds, these products continue to pose an injury risk to young children," the authors wrote. "Although many of the injuries in this study were non-fatal and resulted in minor injuries, cases involving window blind cord entanglements frequently resulted in hospitalisation or death.
The authors also argued that adult supervision is not enough. "The notion that closer caregiver supervision can prevent window blind incidents is unrealistic because it is impossible to supervise children constantly, and these events can happen quickly."
As such, their recommendations were clear: "A mandatory safety standard that eliminates accessible window blind cords should be adopted."
According to Product Safety Australia, between one and two children die in Australian homes every year as a result of non-compliant corded blinds and curtains. Over the past decade a number of steps have been taken to save young lives, including the introduction of mandatory standards for blinds in 2010 by the federal government. In 2014 NSW Fair Trading and Kidsafe NSW also produced and distributed a free blind cord safety kit of five plastic hook-like devices with screws and instructions on how to secure cords out of reach of children.
KidSafe offers the following safety tips for parents:
- Check all the rooms in your house for any blinds or curtains with long cords that are either loose or looped. This includes any cords that are within children's reach at floor level or near furniture they can climb on.
- Secure any lose or looped cords with cleats or tension devices – these can be purchased from your local curtain and blind retailer or hardware store.
- Do not put furniture such as cots, beds, highchairs, playpens, couches, chairs, tables or bookshelves near a window where children can reach the blind or curtain cord.
- When installing new blinds and curtains, make sure you or the installer secures any loose or looped cords immediately.