Child Safety in the Home

In the 15-year period from 1982 to 1996, the leading cause of death among young children was accidents, poisoning and violence (external causes) -- these accounted for about 46% of all deaths among Australian children.

Although the death rate from external causes declined, it remained the leading cause of child death during this period. About a third of all child deaths from external causes were due to motor vehicle accidents (on average around 64 deaths per year) and drowning (on average 68 deaths per year).

A number of these deaths were also due to a silent killer found in many thousands of homes -- dangling cords.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission in the US has been working with manufacturers of window blinds and shades to reduce strangulation deaths which occur when young children get caught in the loops of window covering control cords.

Since 1981, over 170 children have died in the US as a result of being entangled in window cords. This is about one death per month. In about half of these cases, children between eight months and four years old were found hanging in the loop of the cords. In other cases, children were found with control cords wrapped around their necks.

The younger children who died, usually between 8 and 23 months old, were in cots that were placed near the window cords. The older children, usually between 2-1/2 and 4 years old, strangled in cords when they climbed on furniture to look out windows.

Blind manufacturers have introduced wand controls on vertical blinds to eliminate this unnecessary risk to children.

MORE SAFETY TIPS

If it's not possible to replace existing curtains or blinds with wand-controlled verticals, there are temporary steps that can be taken to prevent accidental deaths from strangulation:

* Keep all cords out of reach of children
* Move cots and furniture away from cords
* Remove objects from below windows to prevent children from climbing
* Do not tie cords together

The safest, long-term solution is to use wand controls. And of course, you must always be watching your children.

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