Breathing emergencies such as suffocation, strangulation and entrapment are a leading cause of injury-related death to Canadian children.

Approximately 40 children aged 14 and under die every year in Canada from suffocation and another 800 are hospitalized for injuries.

Children who survive may suffer brain damage because they have been deprived of oxygen for a period of time. Major threats to breathing for young children include strangulation by items such as ropes or blind cords and suffocating in cribs or beds.

Tips to prevent strangulation and suffocation

Ensure children have safe sleeping environments.

Eliminate or modify items in the home that are common strangulation hazards, including window blind or curtain cords.

If you have older window coverings with cords:

  • Cut the cords short and tie them high to keep them out of reach from your child.
  • Place children’s furniture, such as cribs, beds, high chairs and play pens away from window blind and curtain cords.
  • Use cordless window coverings, such as drapes without cords or roller blinds, as these are safer for children.
  • Throw out older window blinds with inside cords (vertical cords that hold blind slats together) that can form a loop if pulled by a child.

Read about product safety of window binds and curtain cords.

Create and enforce legislation.

This is a highly effective measure to reduce injuries and deaths. For example, in 2019, the Minister of Health announced regulation changes that will better protect Canadians, particularly children, from injury or death from corded window coverings.