Problem definition

The scope and scale of the problem

In New Zealand, 3 children have died over the past 10 years (2012-2021) due to cords in window coverings. This is an average of 0.33 deaths per year, equivalent to 0.12 deaths per 100,000 children under 4 years of age. There were a further 3 deaths from 2008 to 2011. The coroner reported that, of the 6 total deaths, 4 were New Zealand European and 2 were Māori. We do not have data on injuries and hospitalisations from corded window coverings in New Zealand.

For comparison, in a 2022 report commissioned by MBIE, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) estimates drowning deaths average at 1.1 per 100,000 children under 4 years of age.

The New Zealand death rate per 100,000 children due to corded window coverings (0.12) appears to be lower than the rate in Australia (0.16) but higher than the rates recorded in Canada (0.04) and the United Kingdom (0.08). However, it is difficult to accurately compare these rates as some have been calculated over different time periods, and there tends to be high year-on-year variability.

A consumer awareness survey, commissioned by MBIE and conducted by Perceptive in February/March 2022, received 1,041 nationwide responses. Just over half of all respondents were able to identify air restriction from entanglement in a corded window covering as a potential cause of harm.


  1. Do you agree that corded window coverings in New Zealand currently present a significant safety risk? Why/why not?
  2. Do you believe that government intervention is suitable to address this problem? Why/why not?

There are 2 main measures to minimise risks

  1. There are 2 main measures that can be taken to minimise risks and reduce deaths associated with corded window coverings:
    • Using safety devices, for example, cleats that wrap cords around to shorten them and take them away from the reach of children, or installing break-away clips (e.g. in Roman blinds) that snap away if excess force is applied. Visual examples of safety devices are provided in Appendix 2. 
      Appendix 2 – Examples of safety devices
    • Having cordless window coverings, including those that cover the cords so that they are inaccessible.

  2. The deaths in recent years caused by corded window coverings suggest that these measures are not being fully utilised. MBIE’s 2022 consumer survey found that 54% of those surveyed favoured buying and installing safety equipment to tie away the cords and 44% favoured purchasing non-corded coverings. However, affordability was considered a significant barrier to both measures, with 50% of respondents saying that they were unable to afford the cost of replacing their window coverings with cordless designs, and 39% citing cost as a barrier to installing safety fittings. Inability to install safety fittings was also reported as a significant barrier (38%). Information on why safety fitting could not be installed was not specified, but this appears to be most commonly due to individuals living in rented properties stating that the landlord would not allow it.