The Importance of Blind Safety in Rental Properties
In the quest to create safer home environments, particularly for children, blind safety is a crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked. As a landlord or letting agent, understanding the potential dangers and implementing the necessary safety measures can significantly minimise risks and ensure the well-being of tenants.
The Danger of Looped Cords
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, since 2001, at least 35 young children across the UK have suffered fatal accidents due to entanglement in looped cords on blinds12. This translates to one or two children each year, with many more near misses. The majority of these accidents occur in bedrooms and involve children aged between 16 months and 36 months2.
Changes to Blind Safety Standards
Enhancements to blind safety standards in 2014 have improved product safety1. New blinds with looped cords are now required to have child safety devices installed at the point of manufacture or to be sold with the blind. However, blinds installed before this change may not have these features, and the landlord or occupier is advised to make these blinds safer1. That said, blinds sold before the new safety standards in 2014 are not illegal if they are fitted in rented property.
Making Existing Blinds Safer
Here are some measures that can be taken to improve the safety of existing blinds:
- Cords and Chains: Install tidies, tensioners, or cleats to firmly hold looped cords or chains 1. The cleats should be positioned out of children’s reach, at least 1.5 metres from the floor, and cords should be fastened in a figure of eight after every use1.
- Furniture placement: Keep furniture, including cots, beds, highchairs and playpens, away from windows1. Toddlers are notorious climbers, and having furniture near window blinds increases the risk of accidents.
Preventing Accidents with Looped Cords
Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent accidents involving looped cords:
- Install blinds without looped cords, especially in children's bedrooms2.
- Keep cords on blinds and curtains short and out of children’s reach2.
- Avoid placing a child's cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window2.
- Don't hang toys or objects that could be hazardous on a cot or bed2.
- Avoid hanging drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop2.
Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants, which includes keeping their rented properties safe and free from health hazards3. All blinds installed in rented properties containing cords or chains should be checked to ensure they comply with the child safety requirements of BS EN 13120:2009+A1:20143.
Existing Blinds: Making Them Safer
Blinds installed prior to 2014 may not include safety features, but every style of blind can be made safer3. Resources are available to guide landlords on how to make existing roller blinds, vertical blinds, Venetian blinds, and Roman blinds safer3.
In conclusion, as a landlord, your goal should be to create a safe environment for all tenants. Ensuring blind safety is a simple but effective way to protect the most vulnerable among them: the children.
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