Call for safety improvements after Sunderland girl killed by blind cord

Sophie Allen, two,  who was found hanging from her window blind cord.
Sophie Allen, two, who was found hanging from her window blind cord.
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A CORONER is to write to Government chiefs to see if more can be done to stop youngsters being killed by blind cords.

Derek Winter spoke out during an inquest into the accidental death of two-year-old Sophie Allen.

Little Sophie suffered catastrophic brain damage after she was found hanging from the blind cord in the bedroom of her Sunderland home.

A hearing into her death heard that she was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital, before being transferred to a specialist children’s unit in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

But despite efforts of medics, scans showed there was no activity in the toddler’s brain and her life support machine was switched off in the early hours of April 26.

Sophie lived with parents Peter Allen and Danielle Hudson and siblings Jayden and Ameila at the family home in Ramillies Road, Red House.

Detective Inspector Shelly Hudson, from Northumbria Police, told the inquest that the two-year-old shared a bedroom with her brother, four.

Sophie, who would have been three in December, was “a very inquisitive child”, she said, and enjoyed looking out of her bedroom window to keep an eye on her pet rabbits.

At about 8.30am on April 20, Sophie’s parents heard the two children playing in their bedroom.

Mum Danielle got up to go to the toilet and saw Sophie’s brother was standing on his bed and that a storage unit in the bedroom had tipped over.

DI Hudson said: “Sophie’s sibling told his mam that Sophie was stuck, but because she was an inquisitive little girl, she assumed she was hiding.

“She went quickly to the toilet and went back to the bedroom and as she opened the child gate, she noticed her brother was looking concerned and standing on his bed.

“She asked him again where she was and he pointed at the storage unit next to the window.

“She noticed a shadow behind the curtain, moved the curtain to one side and realised Sophie had the blind cord around her neck.”

The unconscious toddler was freed and carried downstairs, where her parents tried to perform CPR, before going to a neighbour’s house to call an ambulance, as Danielle could not get through on her phone.

The detective added that 28 children in the UK have been strangled by looped cords since 1999 and 15 of these deaths have been in the last four years.

New safety regulations governing the manufacture of blind cords came into force in February.

But Coroner Derek Winter said this would leave “millions” of potentially deadly blinds in family homes.

He will now use his powers to write to Government chiefs to see if more can be done to prevent future deaths.

Mr Winter said: “I will ask that they reply within 56 days as to what additional measures can be taken to highlight public awareness, so those people who have existing blinds fitted can take immediate action to take away the risk of those blinds, and the regulations that are in place from February are brought to everyone’s attention and the number of deaths from blind cords can be eliminated or almost certainly reduced.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accident (RoSPA) estimates there are more than 200 hundred million unsafe blind cords in the UK.

The charity has handed out more than 50,000 free ‘cleats’, which tie up blind cords, as part of an ongoing safety campaign.

•Conclusion: accident.