The parents of a toddler who died in a window blind cord accident have made an emotional bid to raise awareness of the dangers that blinds pose to children.
Feliciano and Maria Saba’s two-year-old son, Bryan, died 11 weeks ago after he became tangled in a looped cord at their home in Portadown, County Armagh.
Mrs Saba described the looped cords as a “silent killer” and called for a new, safer system to be introduced.
The couple have taken part in a safety campaign by the Southern Health Trust.
In an interview filmed for the trust, the couple described Bryan as a lively and loveable child who loved being outdoors.
Mrs and Mrs Saba are originally from Guinea-Bissau in west Africa but left their homeland to study and work in Italy, where they got married.
They and their seven children left Italy and moved to Northern Ireland only a short time before the tragedy.
In September, Bryan was being looked after by his adult sister and brother in their Portadown home, while the rest of the family were at work and at school.
The child had just been fed, and his sister left him to play in their living room while she walked a few steps into the kitchen to wash the dishes.
Mrs Saba said Bryan had only been left alone for a few moments but after noticing that the child was not making any noise in the next room, his sister went to check on him and found him caught up in the blind cord.
“She took him down and put him on the floor. She called out for her brother who was upstairs, he came down. Being in a country a short time, they couldn’t speak English,” Mrs Saba said.
“My daughter ran to my sister’s shop 100 metres [109 yards] away to call her and get her to call an ambulance to help him.”
Despite their attempts to save him, Bryan died on 25 September.
The grieving family has shared their story as a warning to others, as part of the trust’s campaign to reduce window blind cord accidents.
“Children like playing with things, blind cords have little pearl balls that attract the attention of toddlers,” Mrs Saba said.
“We need to have at least some form of safety device on the cord, we need to make them secure. We don’t want to see another child like Bryan die.”
Mr Saba said: “For us, the living room was the safest room in the house. We never thought that the living room would be a death trap because it had practically nothing in it. It only had a television, a sofa, a small table, that was all.”
The couple’s recorded interview was shown at a recent safety workshop in Craigavon, County Armagh, organised by the trust’s accident prevention officer, Nina Daly.
“Many people still remain unaware of the danger that looped cords present to babies and young children,” Ms Daly said.
“If a child’s neck gets entangled in a cord even for a few seconds they can be left permanently brain damaged or die. It really does happen that quickly, without warning and with the child often not able to cry out for help.”
She praised the Saba family’s “courage and determination to warn others of this danger” and said the video will be “a lasting legacy to their son and form part of the trust’s ongoing efforts to address blind cord accidents”.