Advice to groups on blind safety

Joe McLaughlin
Joe McLaughlin

A Portstewart company is giving safety advice to local parents after a Comber youngster died after becoming entangled in a looped blind cord.

The tragic death of 21-month-old Megan Allen plunged the Co Down town into grief last month - and sparked new warnings from the Chief Medical Officer.

Joe McLaughlin, of North West Windows Blinds, has been talking to playgroups in the North Coast area to highlight the dangers of a child being strangled by cords. And he plans to talk to similar groups in Bushmills over the next few months.

Mr McLaughlin said: “Megan’s death was just an awful tragedy to happen any family, especially before Christmas. At the playgroups I’ve been chatting about safety issues, the kind of blinds that can cause problems and the sort of things that can be done to tackle the dangers.”

He has also been handing out safety packs. They contain catches which can be screwed into place to keep the cords out of harm’s way.

“These devices can be used to make the old blinds safe. They are fully certified and are of a European standard. They come with a safety warning, screws and plugs - they just need a screwdriver to fit them. All new blinds are governed by new legislation with cords having to be a minimum of 1.5m off the ground so that small children cannot get entangled on them. More online!

“I’m a father myself and I don’t want to see any other family suffer the same tragedy.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said there had been 16 deaths due to blind cords since 2010.

“The tragedy is that they are preventable deaths, “ he said.

“It is important we are all aware of the risks - because it only takes 18 seconds.”

Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy said Comber had been deeply affected by Megan’s death.

“People cannot believe this has happened again. It is horrendous.