Saving young lives: IKEA has stopped selling blinds with cords in stores across Australia

The new blinds on sale at IKEA.
The new blinds on sale at IKEA.  Photo: Supplied

IKEA has announced all blinds sold in its stores across the country now either have no cords or non-accessible cords.

The move follows four years of product development and has been made in a bid to prevent deaths of young children from being strangled by loose cords.

"We take our role as a responsible retailer very seriously and are proud to be leading the way as the largest retailer in Australia to sell only cordless window blinds and coverings," Range Manager IKEA Australia Tim Prevade said.

Jack Mackay, who died at 18 months when he became entangled in a blind cord in 2013.
Jack Mackay, who died at 18 months when he became entangled in a blind cord in 2013.  Photo: Supplied

"IKEA is committed to working together with our customers to raise awareness of this important issue and to help families get the knowledge they need to ensure a safer everyday life at home."

IKEA'S Australian announcement follows a similar move by the furniture giant's European stores made last year. In 2012 the global furniture giant made a commitment to only offer window blinds with no or non-accessible cords by early 2016.

The store's new range of blinds consists of cordless roller blinds, a cellular blind with non-accessible cords, Roman magnetic blinds and curtains without drawstrings.

Venetian blinds will not be sold by IKEA as a safe alternative to cords has not been found for that style of window covering.

According to Product Safety Australia, an average of one to two Australian children die each year after being strangled by blind or curtain cords. Since 2001 there have been at least 15 deaths across the country.

Toddler Jack Mackay's family spoke publicly about their devastation when the little boy died at their home in Port Stephens near Newcastle in August 2013.

Clint Mackay put his 18-month-old son in his cot for a nap after lunch and when the little boy was quiet his father assumed he had fallen asleep.

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Tragically, when Mr Mackay later went to check on his son he found him unconscious after becoming entangled in the blind cord hanging near his cot.

Speaking as she struggled to come to terms with her son's death, Laura Mackay said the family was not aware of the danger blind cords posed before the tragedy and pleaded with others to learn from her loss.

"We are so advanced with technology in everything it doesn't make sense that we need to have these dangerous cords," she said.

"If you can't afford to install new blinds then hook them up, put in a nail and have them so it's physically impossible for your child to get hold of them.

"It might not be pretty, it might take your house away from being a show home, but it's important.

"Put a sheet up until you can afford to change it because no amount of money is going to bring my little boy back. I would live with sun pouring in every day if that's what it took."

In 2010, the federal government introduced mandatory standards for blinds, stating that manufacturers had to include a warning label about cords on the packaging and attached to the cord itself. Blinds also have to come with instructions on how to install cords to prevent child injuries. 

In August 2014 NSW Fair Trading and Kidsafe NSW 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. 

Keep kids safe around blind cords

Kidsafe NSW gives the following advice in relation to children and blind cords:

  • 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 that are within children's reach at floor level or near furniture they can climb on.
  • Do not put children's cots, beds, highchairs or playpens near a window where children can reach the blind or curtain cords. The cords can get around children's necks and strangle them while they are playing or sleeping.
  • Do not place sofas, chairs, tables, shelves or bookcases near windows with corded blinds or curtains. Young children often like to climb onto furniture to look out the window. If they can reach the cords, they may quickly become entangled in them, lose their footing and suffer strangulation or serious injuries.
  • Make sure blind and curtain cords are not hanging anywhere within children's reach. Loose cords can easily wrap around and strangle children who are jumping, playing or climbing nearby.
  • 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.