Child Safety for Window Blinds

  Let’s face it; there have been some horror stories over the years of children being caught in the cords from blinds. Now I’m not here to scaremonger but rather to reassure as modern blinds have all sorts of new safety features. In 2014 a new European Standard was set, and all of our blinds made after that date were made to conform to that standard. So what does this mean? You can read the full ins and outs of the “European EN 13120” here but basically it talks about looped cords and what should be done to make them safe.   Most blinds be they roller; venetian; or vertical will have some sort of looped cord to control them, this closed loop is really the source of danger. This has been the danger that the standard has set out to eliminate. If you"re not familiar with blind types and would like to know more before reading on check out our Beginners Guide to Window Blinds. [caption id="attachment_1621" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Looped cord[/caption]

So what did they come up with?

The first and foremost solution is to make all cords a minimum height of 1.5m (60”)  from the ground. This is why when you give your blind measurements you now have to give the measurement from the top of the blind to the ground, even if the window is well off the ground - we need to know the full length so we can make the cord the appropriate length. This measurement is required for every home, not just those with children and if your blind is going to be in an awkward place, like over a sink where the cord cannot be easily reached, let us know and we can fit an alternative safety feature.  If you’re not sure if your cord can easily be 1.5m from the ground then that is definitely a job for our fitter to check. The change in cord length was perhaps the most obvious solution to a problem, little hands can hardly reach 5ft off the ground? But as we all know children can get themselves pretty much wherever they want if they want to! So the second solution is to have the cord under tension, this basically means that the cord is held taut with a cleat at the bottom. Not having the cord hanging loose means the little ones can’t get themselves tangled in them too easily even if they do manage to climb up to investigate. [caption id="attachment_1620" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Cleat Holding Cord Under Tension[/caption] The other feature which when suitable is on all of our blinds is an “Easy Break Mechanism”. This means that your cord is not one continuous piece but rather joined together with a small mechanism that will pop off if pressure is applied. The 2 ends can simply be popped back together if this happens. In cases like an awkward window like a dormer or if a person has mobility issues and can’t easily reach 1.5 m off the ground we can even make blinds with a “Double Break Mechanism” which is essentially 2 points where the chain can break, so the bottom of the chain basically drops off if any pressure is applied to it. Again, this can be easily re-attached. [caption id="attachment_1622" align="aligncenter" width="449"] Easy Break Mechanism Joining 2 Cord Ends[/caption] If you want to eliminate the issue altogether if purchasing rollerblinds you can opt for a spring mechanism, which simply pulls up and down with a toggle in the centre.  

The Curious Case of Roman Blinds

I’m not going to lie to you, roman blinds were a major issue when this standard came in, as they’re basically made of all cords, talk about a hazard!! For those of you who aren’t familiar, a roman blind is attached to a track and pulls up and down with a series of cords running up and down the back of the blind. [caption id="attachment_1623" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Cords Running Down Roman Blind[/caption] The solution to this was to make each point where the cord attached to the rails at the back an easy break mechanism. This can be a pain at times - where if you, or someone in your home pulls the blind a bit too vigorously, they pop off. Now I’m not looking at anyone specifically here but either pull the blind yourself or teach that person who shall remain nameless how to re-attach the cords. This is of course an easy enough job and if you purchase a blind with us and you’re fitting it yourself, our expert staff can talk you through all this. [caption id="attachment_1626" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Roman Blind Safety Break Away Mechanism[/caption]  

So what does all of this mean if you already have blinds?

You probably can’t have your blind altered at this point if they’re more than 5 years old but my simple suggestion to you is to buy a cleat. Keep the cord under tension so the little ones in your life can’t get wrapped up in them. If you’re handy you could go in store and buy an easy break chain connector and cut the chain to the appropriate height yourself. You can only do this if the full length of the chain is longer than the blind after you cut it, if the chain is shorter you won"t be able to pull the blind up and down fully. Of course if your blinds are more than 5 years old and you’re worried that they’re not so safe maybe it’s time to treat yourself to some new ones! If you would like to talk to someone further about our child safety features please talk to our experts in store who will be happy to help.  
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