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Blind Cord Cleats Available – Courier 12/01/13

Thousands of life-saving pieces of equipment intended for Angus families are collecting dust in their boxes, it has emerged.

Forfar-based Angus Care and Repair was sent 3,000 blind cord cleats to avert potential tragedies in the county’s homes, and a scheme was set up to offer them for free with a fitting service.

However, manager Judith Leslie told The Courier: “We got 3,000 in September and probably fitted about 100 so far.”

Perhaps as important, the Scottish Government will sit down to discuss the Angus offer and judge whether its success merits a nationwide drive.

At least 23 children have died in blind cord accidents in the UK since 1999, with 11 occurring since the beginning of 2010.

“Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have been piloting a scheme to try and stop these type of deaths,” added Ms Leslie.

“Local authorities have done small pilots with these kinds of cleats, however they’ve not been fitted like we’re doing. The problem with that is people then just put them in a drawer or something.

“RoSPA said we’d be the first local authority to do it and provide a fitting service. They’re just sitting in the store, as not nearly as many people as we hoped have come forward.

“What RoSPA also asked me was if we could provide a report for the government then it would show them the benefits and they would spread it across the whole country.

Angus councillor and local authority social work and health convener, Glennis Middleton, said a simple phone call could save a life in Angus, one day.

She said: “I’m aware what a huge tragedy it is for the families concerned and I’m very happy to support this scheme.

“I would urge all families who have blinds fitted in their homes to contact Care and Repair as a matter of urgency.

“This is a real opportunity to have the safety measure fitted professionally and to a proper standard.

“It’s very quick; it’s very easy and can prevent a tragedy in their homes.

“I will be speaking to the head of housing if this can also be put in our tenant newsletter to let all our tenants know that this is available to them.”

RoSPA Scotland is fitting cleats in Angus homes in association with Angus Care and Repair, using money donated by businesses at a gala dinner in May.

In October, the two-year-old daughter of one of Britain’s wealthiest men died in her cot after becoming entangled with a cord.

Shipping tycoon Morten Hoegh’s daughter Alexandra was found unconscious by her mother in their west London home.

This recent case is only one of a number of high-profile tragedies that RoSPA argue can be easily prevented, but could happen to anyone.

Research indicates most accidental deaths involving blind cords happen in a bedroom and occur in children aged between 16 months and three years old.

RoSPA has been working across the UK to raise awareness about the dangers of looped blind cords.

More than 130,000 safety packs containing an advice leaflet and a cleat – a small plastic device that is fitted to the side of the window for the operating cord to be wrapped around – have been distributed to families and carers of young children.

Ochil and South Perthshire MP Gordon Banks has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban the cords since the death in his constituency of two-year-old Muireann McLaughlin four years ago.

Ms Leslie added: “We need people to come forward, both to protect their own children but to potentially help other families around Scotland.”