Aussie boy fatally strangled by blinds sparks call for rental and Airbnb change

Melbourne boy Lincoln was just three years old when he became entangled in a blind cord and died.

A heartbroken Aussie grandmother is calling for immediate changes to safety standards in rental properties after her three-year-old grandson died thanks to a simple danger she said "many people aren't aware of".

Victorian woman Kerrie said she "wants the law changed", after her grandson Lincoln, 3, died when he became entangled in a blind cord while playing on a windowsill at his Melbourne home in September 2020. Lincoln was found by family members unconscious that day and Kerrie said years on, "we are still completely broken".

Lincoln's mother was renting the property in which he passed away in and Kerrie is now calling for new laws to require older rental homes to comply with modern blind safety standards. Kerrie argues loose hanging blinds that aren't properly fixed to walls are an accident waiting to happen, and that by campaigning for legislative changes she might be able to prevent another family's heartache.

Victorian grandmother Kerrie Shearer with her grandson Lincoln.
Victorian grandmother Kerrie is calling for changes to safety standards in rental properties and Airbnbs. Source: 9News

Grandmother's quest for change

Window furnishings in homes built after 2010 must be taut and affixed to the wall to reduce entanglement risk, according to the ACCC, and the "corded internal window covering" must be "installed in a way that ensures a loose cord cannot form a loop 220 mm or longer at or less than 1,600 mm above floor level".

However there are no rules which state older properties must adhere to these guidelines.

Kerrie said she's "amazed" more people don't know of the dangers.

"My son described him as his best friend, his right arm," she told 9News on Sunday. "I'm constantly amazed how people aren't aware...I go to Airbnbs and hotels now and I'm [telling] them, 'Hey your blinds aren't attached to the wall.'"

Victorian boy Lincoln who died after becoming entangled in a blind cord.
Three-year-old Lincoln died after being strangled by a blind cord in 2020. Source: 9News

Lincoln's law in the works

Kerrie is now working with Kidsafe, the county's peak not-for-profit agency dedicated to the prevention of unintentional serious injury and death of children, to expand safety requirements for older homes.

"I want it to be Lincoln's law," she said. "Any looped or hanging cords are a danger to children, so they need to be affixed to the wall," she said.

A blind cord.
Window furnishings in homes built after 2010 must be taut and affixed to the wall to reduce entanglement risk. Source: Getty

As a result of Kerrie's work, the state government is consulting on the potential introduction of a mandatory blind cord safety standard for all rental properties, irrespective of the property's age.

Kidsafe Victoria CEO Melanie Courtney said as of this weeks, talks with the Victorian Government are ongoing. "We wrote to the state government in 2021 and we're calling for the introduction of a requirement for curtain and blind cords to me fixed when renters moved in," she told Yahoo News Australia.

"We've had three ministers in that time, in that particular portfolio, who all seen keen an interested. It just hasn't happened as yet, but we're still working on that."

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