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How child-friendly is your home?


The tragic story of little Sophie Parslow who died aged 17 months after she became entangled in a looped blind cord at home has inspired us to consider some of the steps we can take to make our homes safer.

Her mother had left her for just a few minutes while she went to the toilet. Sophie is one of 14 children in the UK to die in this way since 2010. I know the mother of one of those children and support her campaign to ban this type of cord blind. Worldwide 367 children are known to have died like this.


Sheila Merrill, home safety manager for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, told the BBC: "A loop which hangs at waist height for an adult could slip around the neck of a young child if he or she falls.

"Or, if the loop is at floor level, it could become wrapped around the neck of a baby who is crawling.

"There have also been cases in which babies have been accidentally strangled by cord loops hanging into their cots.

"Our advice is to tie looped blind cords up out of the reach of young children."


ROSPA generally advises against having corded blinds in a child’s bedroom, cords at home should be tied well out of the way using cord tidies, clips or ties. Some manufacturers are now producing blinds with cords which break when pressure is applied, to prevent hanging.


Other home safety advice from ROSPA aimed at keeping your children safe includes:

  • Don’t leave children unattended

  • Don't hang drawstring bags where a small child could get their head through the loop of the drawstring

  • Put hot drinks out of reach and away from the edges of tables and worktops

  • Always use rear hotplates and turn the panhandles away from the front of the cooker

  • Use safety glass to BS 6206 (laminated, toughened or glass which passes the impact test) in all replacement windows and doors - especially at low level. Laminated glass is good for safety and security

  • Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard

  • Ensure that small objects such as marbles and peanuts and small toys are kept out of reach of children under three years old

  • Encourage older children to keep their toys away from their younger playmates

  • Keep animals, especially cats, out of the bedroom and use a net on a pram

  • Keep nappy sacks out of the reach of babies and young children

  • Never leave children or babies in the bath unsupervised, even for a moment

  • Fit a safety gate BS EN 1930: 2011 5 at the top and bottom of stairs

  • Make sure balustrades are strong and do not have any footholds for climbing

  • Fit child resistant window restrictors but make sure you can get out easily in an emergency

  • Do not put anything under the window that can be climbed on

  • Furniture and tall kitchen appliance, at risk from being pulled over, should be secured to the wall

  • Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children

  • Always use a fireguard and secure it to the wall

  • Extinguish and dispose of cigarettes properly

  • Have an escape route planned, and practise it, in case of fire

  • Fit a smoke alarm and check it regularly

  • Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair

  • Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces.


You can buy some useful safety gizmos for the home... such as guards for plug sockets, locks for cupboard doors, guards to stop doors closing on little fingers and padding to protect children from hard corners on furniture. And as children get older, ROSPA say good education is a key to keeping them safe.


It’s worth spending a few minutes reading over the safety advice on the ROSPA website.

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