A GRIEVING family has teamed up with the Echo to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of blind cords.
Toddler Sophie Allen died six days after her mother found her tangled in the looped blind cord in the bedroom of her Sunderland home.
At the two-year-old’s inquest last week, the city’s senior coroner Derek Winter heard that 28 children in the UK have been strangled by looped cords since 1999 – 15 in the last four years.
New safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force in February but there are still millions of potentially deadly blinds in family homes across the country.
Now Sophie’s devastated parents, Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson, have joined the Echo in trying to prevent future deaths with our campaign For Sophie’s Sake.
The couple watched in agony as medics at Sunderland Royal Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, battled to save Sophie in April. Tragically, all efforts failed and Sophie’s life support was switched off in the early hours of April 26 after scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain.
They said: “Too many children die because of blind cords. They have been banned in America and other countries.
“The reason being, children still have accidents with blind cords when safety devices are fitted. Devices have failed in the past – cord breakers have not snapped and clips on the walls have been able to be pulled off.
“Basically, these safety devices still don’t prevent blind cord accidents.
“The design of the looped cord is wrong – there is no need to continuously pull a corded blind round and round on a loop.”
The parents, from Redhouse, also have a son and daughter, Jayden and Ameila.
They added: “Our campaign is to make people aware and make them safe for the millions of people that already have blinds fitted in their homes.
“However, our view is that eventually we need to get rid of them altogether.
“Cordless blinds are sold for next to nothing in some places, so why are manufacturers still producing corded blinds?
“We have heard that some blind companies are still fitting blinds without the devices, because the customer is refusing to have them in fear of compromising the warranty on fitted windows.”
Echo editor John Szymanski added: “Sophie’s death was a tragedy which could have been avoided.
“We are fully behind Sophie’s family in both raising awareness of this, and helping to stop it happening again, so no other parents have to go through this kind of grief and agony.”
On the morning Sophie died, her parents heard her playing with her brother in their bedroom at their home in Ramillies Road.
Her mum got up to go to the toilet and saw Sophie’s brother standing on his bed and that a storage unit in the bedroom had tipped over.
He told her Sophie was stuck and Ms Hudson assumed she was hiding.
But when she opened the child gate, she noticed a shadow behind the curtain and realised Sophie had the blind cord around her neck.
Her frantic parents tried to resuscitate the unconscious toddler before an ambulance was called.
An inquest in Sunderland heard that Sophie was “a very inquisitive child” and her death was a tragic accident.
New measures are welcomed
NEW safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force in February.
But safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) fears there are still millions of the potentially-deadly blinds in homes across the country.
Charity spokeswoman Sheila Merrill said: “The arrival of the new blind cord standard is a welcome development, because it will help to strengthen the safety of all new blinds and save children’s lives.
“But it is important to stress that there are 200 million blinds already fitted in UK properties. This is why it is important to continue to raise awareness among parents and carers of making sure that looped blind cords are kept out of the reach of children. This can be done by fitting a safety device such as a chain/cord-break connector, chain/cord tidy or cleat.
“We urge people not to place a cot, bed, playpen or highchair near a window and only install blinds that do not have a cord, especially in a child’s bedroom.”
Support for cause
DANIELLE and Peter are supporting another mum who lost her daughter in a blind cord accident.
The couple, who have set up a Facebook page called Blind Cord Safety in the UK, in memory of Sophie, are also in the process of creating a website for their cause, are in touch with Amanda O’Halloran, who lost her 17-month-old daughter Sophia a year ago.
Amanda, from Tirley in Gloucestershire, launched a campaign and petition called Sophia’s Cause, which calls for a ban on all corded blinds being sold.
So far, it has almost 8,000 signatures in support.