Fatal TV fall spurs warning on child safety

Hawke's Bay parents are being urged to child-safe their homes - and getting rid of baby walkers is top of the list.

"Every year in New Zealand over 13,000 children under five go to hospital with injuries and 40 per cent of these are from falls," Plunket Hawke's Bay area manager Sarah Mulcahy said.

"While parents can't prevent every bump and scrape there are changes that can be made inside the home to help keep young ones safe."

A coroner this week highlighted the need to secure heavy objects after a toddler was killed by a falling television set.

The 3-year-old Invercargill boy died from massive head injuries after the 60kg television toppled off a chest of drawers in his parents' bedroom as he tried to turn it on last July.

Coroner Christopher Devonport said the death was a terrible tragedy and timely warning to parents to secure heavy objects.

Ms Mulcahy said there were three key things Hawke's Bay parents could do to help prevent falls.

"Changing children on the ground, or making sure one hand is always on their child when they're on a high surface, having barriers at both the top and bottom of stairs, and not using baby walkers. They're dangerous because they can tip over, fall down stairs or move quickly into danger such as towards a heater or stove."

Plunket national child safety adviser Sue Campbell said any injury to a child was terribly sad. But parents could not keep an eye on their children 24/7.

"When things go wrong, it's a reminder for anybody, 'Gosh, I need to do something about that'.

"You can't childproof a home ... you can do the best you possibly can, but kids are kids and you can't make a home totally safe."

Dangers faced by children in and around the home varied depending on their age, Ms Campbell said.

"What we talk about a lot with preventing accidents is thinking to what stage of development that baby or child is going to get to next."

Plunket encouraged parents to prepare for potential risks in the home, including ensuring a fire guard was in place before a child started crawling or putting a barrier at the top of stairs before he or she became more mobile.

Bracketing existing appliances and furniture and favouring wall-mounted options when buying new devices all helped, Ms Campbell said.

"You can't - in spite of the fact you'd probably like to - watch them every second that they are around.

"It's about doing the best that you can."

Plunket's Thriving under 5 book is given to all new parents at their first Plunket visit. It contains advice on how to make a home safer for a child.


  • July 14, 2012: A three-year-old Invercargill boy died when a 60kg television and chest of drawers fell on him as he tried to climb on to a coffee table.

  • May 6, 2012: Nineteen month-old Kobi George Collier was killed after a free-standing stove fell on him in Te Aroha.

  • February 22, 2011: Eight-month-old Riccarton boy, Jayden David Harris, was killed in his bed when a 21-inch television fell from a chest of drawers on to him during the 6.3-magnitude Christchurch earthquake.

How to childproof your home

  • Fasten furniture and appliances to the wall with brackets or straps.

  • Sit at your child's level on the floor and look out for things that could pose a danger; heaters, electrical plugs etc.

  • Change babies on the floor to keep them safe from falls.

  • Keep hot water jugs and their cords well away from the edge of the bench.

  • Put safety plugs in power points, guards for heaters and gates for stairs.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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