real life

The innocuous household item that took this toddler's life

The parents of a toddler who died last week after becoming tangled in a blind cord have called for manufacturers to change the design of their products to prevent further deaths.

Jack Mackay, from Port Stephens in NSW, was just 19-month-old.

It was Thursday afternoon and Jack's father Clinton put his son down for his afternoon nap, giving him a kiss before leaving the room. When Jack fell silent his dad thought he'd fallen asleep.

It's believed that Jack reached the cord hanging from the window blind next to the cot and somehow wrapped it around his neck. When Clinton went to check on him later that afternoon he found him unconscious and blue. He immediately laid him on the ground and began CPR. Paramedics took over and a helicopter was called.

He was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at John Hunter Hospital.

Jack's mum Laura was at work at the time and raced home. "His dad worked so hard to save him. Jack was blue when his dad found him, and when I got there he wasn't blue, so I know my husband did breathe life into our little boy."

Mr Mackay said, "RIP my little mate. I did everything I could, but daddy couldn't bring you back," he said.

Jack's death has reminded me how close I came to losing my little girl. Two-and-a-half years ago, I discovered my daughter choking on a cord hanging from the blind of my bedroom window.

All three of my children were playing on my bed in my room. We'd been sitting together reading books when the phone rang. I left my then 7, 3 and 18-month-old on the bed. When I returned my 7-year-old had wandered off, my 3-year-old was on the floor playing with his toys and my baby girl was on my bed, on her knees, quietly choking on a cord that was wrapped around her neck.

She was leaning forward which had the affect of hanging her from the cords. She was purple and her eyes were bulging. She made no sound as she choked.

I shrieked, stood on the bed and picked her to release the pressure. I carefully unwrapped the cord and her colour returned. She started to cry straight away which I took as a good sign.

The cords had been hanging behind my bed on the window blind. Had she not been on the bed she wouldn't have been able to reach them.
I'd been gone for two minutes maximum.
I'll never forget how close I came to losing her and my heart breaks for Jack parents, Clinton and Laura Mackay. Mrs Mackay said, "It's just such an unnecessary death. With technology the way it is now days, surely something can be done so that when the cords are pulled on, they snap."

"That way what happened to our little angel won't happen to anyone else's."

There are so many choking hazards in our homes and cords from blinds and curtains are one of the worst. There are some simple steps parents can take to try and avoid similar tragedies, all of which I implemented after my own terrifying incident:
* Never leave cords from curtains and blinds hanging, even if you think your kids can't reach them. Roll them up and hang them on hooks or tape them up;
* Consider installing curtains and blinds that use rods instead of cords;
* Move children's cots, beds and bedroom furniture away from the window so they can't easily access cords;
* Never let children sleep with necklaces or anything around their necks, even bibs;
* Don't use ribbons or chains to attach dummies to clothing;
* Keep hanging mobiles out of your baby's reach.
The new Australian standard for internal blinds, curtains and widow fittings supplied after December 2010 states that all cords must be fitted with a warning label.
In Australia there has been child deaths by strangulation associated with Roman shades, roll-up blinds and blind and curtain cords.
Do you have cords on your blinds and curtains that you've forgotten to put out of reach of kids?
I never thought I'd settle for a conventional life. I was always such a rebel...and now here I am, a wife, a mother. I couldn't be any more traditional if I tried. Oh well. I suppose we all try to reject conformity in our teens and twenties. Then we meet an awesome guy, or gal and have kids, buy pets and start worrying about stain removal and which brand of butter to buy. I did dabble in radio and traffic reporting for, oh, two decades. Still, I push back against social norms by debating friends and family excessively at family functions, sometimes not washing the dinner dishes until the next day (gasp) and jumping on our giant trampoline while the kids are at school, just for fun. And I blog. She blogs? She does. Find me at, on Facebook and on Twitter.