Ikea has promised to stop selling window blinds with cords in an effort to improve childsafety.

As of today, it’s stopped selling them in the US, and says it plans to discontinue them internationally by the end of the year.

“Product safety is the highest priority for Ikea, which is why we have been working to develop alternative solutions to exposed cords in window coverings. In 2012, Ikea made the commitment to only offer window blinds and coverings with no or non-accessible cords by January of 2016, and we’re pleased to be able to announce that we’ve met this commitment,” says Heather Spatz, Ikea US country sales manager.

“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.”

On average, one child a month died in a window blind accident in the US between 1996 and 2012, according to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission – which has named the cords as one of its top five hidden home hazards.

In the UK, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), there have been at least 30 deaths across the UK due to looped blind cords since 1999 – 17 since the start of 2010.

Most such accidents, it says, happen in the bedroom, to children between 16 months and 36 months old. More than half involve children of around 23 months.

At this age, toddlers are mobile, but still have a comparatively heavy head and undeveloped control of their muscles, making it harder to free themselves if they become entangled.

In addition, toddlers’ windpipes are smaller and less rigid than those of adults and older children, meaning that they can suffocate far more quickly.

“It can take as little as seconds for a toddler to lose their life after becoming entangled in a window blind cord or chain, but simple steps – such as securing cords and chains with safety devices and keeping furniture away from windows so that children cannot climb up – can help prevent deaths,” says Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England.

Last month alone, three inquests were carried out into the deaths of toddlers from blind cords.

Two-year-old Roisín Redmond choked to death after becoming caught in a looped blind cord at her grandmother’s home in Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny.

Three-year-old Mohammed Javaid, known as Haseeb, also strangled himself at his Huddersfield home, as did Oxfordshire thirteen-month-old Johnny Doran.

Recent changes to the law mean it’s no longer legal to sell blinds with cords unless the cords are fixed to the wall or have a snap-mechanism that breaks them when more than 4kg of pressure is applied; Ikea is going one further.

But as blinds tend to stay in place for years, the majority of those currently fitted in the UK are likely to pose some danger, and parents are advised to check, if necessary adding a cleat.