Curtain cord dangers to children under study

Kyodo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to compile safety measures to help prevent accidents involving young children who get cords from curtains or blinds around their necks, and possibly seek a redesign of such products to make them safer.

The action follows reports of children being killed or injured after being choked by curtain cords, including a case reported by the Japan Pediatric Society.

In that case from last July, a 1-year-old boy managed to put a living room curtain control cord around his neck before he fell forward. The boy’s mother found him not breathing minutes later. The child was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with cerebral hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain. He would have died had he not been promptly found, the pediatric society said.

The metropolitan government plans to have safety measures put in place by next March and get the word out to curtain and blind makers to make their products safer before more accidents occur.

A study conducted in the United States determined five infants died in similar accidents between 2006 and 2009 and 16 more would have died had prompt action not been taken.

“Warning users about the dangers is not enough,” an official of the pediatric society said. “It is necessary to modify and improve the products.”

The metropolitan government plans to conduct simulations regarding such accidents and to survey consumers. A council comprised of industry group members and experts will start discussing ways to modify the products, such as changing locations of the cords, in September.

The central government will provide a ¥7.7 million grant to the metropolitan government to pioneer a project on the problem.

“I hope this will lead to development of safer products to protect young children, who are unaware of the danger,” said Masataka Ono of the Tokyo citizens and cultural affairs bureau.