2010
01
NOV

RoSPA Campaign for Blind Safety

 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have launched their Blind Cord Safety Campaign

However, despite working closely with the British Blind and Shutter Association (BBSA) and even quoting their Make it Safe advice, RoSPA failed to even inform them that the campaign was being launched – leaving the BBSA to find out by reading reports in the press last week.

In some respects this represents part of the problem being faced by the BBSA; namely that without sufficient recognition by the mainstream organisations and government departments, the topic is not being completely addressed.

Talk to people from within the blind industry and you will find that the professional manufacturers and retailers have been addressing the issue of Blind Safety for a long time, but the problem remains that the following has not been addressed:

Increased Public Awareness
Despite occasionally being used as a political football, the press coverage of the tragic deaths arising from strangulation has at last reached the public consciousness and so people are starting to become aware of the risk.

Quite rightly people are focusing on the deaths, but the issue here is that they are not thinking about the much more likely instances of injury, as well as the cost and inconvenience arising from poorly chosen blinds that may be badly designed, manufactured or fitted inadequately in poor locations. This arises because we are always looking for the cheapest option nowadays, whether it is DIY, cheap internet retailers or local businesses that are ill-equipped to deal with the problem because they are too desperate to get your order.

Blame Culture
We are all too aware nowadays that the culture of blame exists and in many ways this is completely misleading as it creates a misplaced sense of security. If you refer to the RoSPA campaign and the BBSA guide notes, it says (in prominent text) “Persons in charge of children are ultimately responsible for following the safety instructions provided by the manufacturer” (as stated within EN 13120).

Having said that, it is only in recent years that manufacturers have provided explicit instructions or warnings. We have been labelling our blinds with looped cords (which represent a small minority of the total blinds we install) for 6 years and only because the BBSA offered this solution and we chose to invest in it.

When dealing with blinds, it is obvious that the majority of the public are quite willing to accept what they are being told and accept it at face value without thinking it through. Unfortunately the home is full of potential risks, particularly for small children and pets, as well as the disabled and vulnerable, so there is no substitute for constant vigilance. Despite this, the sad fact is that this is not always possible and any death or injury should not be used by the media or politicians to their own ends, but as a way to learn and avoid this in the future.

Buying Cheap
Here at Conservatory Blinds Limited we have noticed that there has been a significant change in the approach that many customers are taking towards blinds. The majority of people that we talk to (and there are many thousands per year) seem to just look at the lowest price because they assume that all blinds are more or less the same. Unfortunately this is utterly untrue.

Buying the cheapest blinds in this economy probably means that you are buying from the most desperate retailer. You may assume that they must be acceptable otherwise they wouldn’t be in business, but you would be surprised at just how poorly trained, inexperienced and completely unqualified the people that you are relying on really are. Read our Conservatory Blinds Advice page to see the common differences you will encounter... and we have avoided showing the worst examples.

Public Perceptions
In addition to customers nearly always believing that it is all about price, we have also noticed a significant change in the manner with which we are treated. Until a few years ago the majority of our customers would listen to our advice when we were suggesting different options for conservatory blinds – now the opposite is true.

The majority of people nowadays seem to assume that, like the other retailers, we are just salesmen and so do not have anything worth saying. It is not until after the order has been placed that many people start to really listen to our advice.

Misunderstanding & Assumptions
Whilst there are differences between products, the biggest differences are in the company that you buy from rather than which blinds you choose.
 
The advice you get at quotation stage (which is completely free) will have the biggest effect of all, but people dismiss this as salesmanship – which is unfortunately true with many companies, but not all.
 
The next most important stage is survey (where we can still help to ensure the blinds are suitable for your needs). You would be surprised at the number of people who don’t even attend the survey, leaving a neighbour or relative to simply let us in to “measure up”. 
 
Existing Blinds
Perhaps the biggest issue of all are the many millions of blinds that are already fitted in homes all across the country. Looped cords have been used in house blinds for hundreds of years and so the biggest problems are not new blinds, but old blinds.
 
The public needs to be made aware that they should take a fresh look at their existing window coverings and see what needs changing from a common sense point of view. Installing child safety devices is not difficult; it is however time consuming and so will cost money – sometimes even resulting in replacing blinds.
 
Legislation
In our opinion the blind industry should be legislated somewhat along the lines of the glazing industry, where in order for a business to trade it must be a member of the trade body (in this case the BBSA). Obviously this would not prevent abuses of trust and professionalism, but it would certainly help to raise awareness in the public and ensure that the cowboy element is eradicated.
 
Conclusion
All of the above points can be simplified down to one thing: some people are far too occupied with their own self interests that they are unwilling or unable to address the real problems that contribute to these tragic deaths.
  • More people need to shun the cheapest price and buy on quality
  • Many DIY retailers don't want to admit that you need expert advice
  • Many small retailers are too occupied with trying to stay in business
  • Many big retailers are too occupied with increasing sales and profits
  • Many salespeople are completely untrained and inexperienced
  • Many politicians know that the issue is far too big to deal with quickly

Of course there are still people who care and know what they are doing, but unfortunately they are the minority, so things really need to change.


As the UK's largest family owned conservatory blinds specialists, we try to ensure that we do all we can to offer the best solutions. Our conservatory blinds can avoid all of the problems associated with looped cords.

Pleated Blinds do not need to have any looped cords
Pinoleum Blinds have looped cords but are available with child safety measures
Roman Blinds have looped cords but are available with child safety measures
Roller Blinds are not recommended in conservatories (compare Conservatory Blinds)
Remote Control Blinds have no looped cords (SOLO is ideal for window blinds)
Venetian Blinds are not recommended for conservatories
Vertical Blinds have no looped cords, but are not recommended for conservatories
Perfect Fit Blinds are available without looped cords

If you are looking for genuine expert advice then contact us for a free quotation. At the very least you can be sure that you are dealing with an ethical company.

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