An Arrowtown man whose daughter's feet blistered and swelled to double their usual size after she scorched them on sun-heated tiles is shocked the house he built caused the accident.

Olivia McRae, aged 13 months, suffered severe burns and may need skin grafts after she walked on tiles that were heated by the sun to 69C.

Up to one minute was all it took for the toddler to burn the soles of her feet, said her father, Andrew.

Mr McRae, 36, built the house, which includes a 3sq m veranda of basalt stone tiles off an upstairs bedroom where the accident happened.


"I feel quite guilty. It's something we didn't even consider. I thought we'd built a safe house but we hadn't."

His wife, Angela, 36, was at home with Olivia and her brother Jacob on November 10 and was using the ensuite while the children played in the bedroom. She had left the sliding door to the balcony open because it was a hot day, and suddenly she heard Olivia crying.

"I rushed out and picked her up and I looked down and saw her feet. It looked like there was all this extra skin. It was like 'oh my God'," she said.

Mrs McRae held her daughter's feet under cold running water for about 15 minutes and by the time she got her to the medical centre, Olivia's blistered feet had swollen to double their usual size.

She took her to Lakes District Hospital, and the toddler was then taken by ambulance to Southland Hospital in Invercargill, screaming in pain until she received morphine, Mrs McRae said.

Olivia had the blisters popped and the extra skin on her feet was removed, and she was kept in hospital for two nights.

"All of the doctors and nurses came to have a look because no one had seen anything like it."

Two days after the accident Mr McRae checked the temperature of the sun-heated tiles with a thermometer and was shocked to find they were 69C.


Since the accident Olivia has started walking on her knees because she cannot put any weight on her feet. She needs paracetamol regularly and is having trouble sleeping, according to Mrs McRae.

"It's been awful for her. She's as good as can be expected."

Olivia started walking only two months ago and because she was still unsteady on her feet she would have found it difficult to move her feet quickly off the scorching tiles, Mrs McRae believes.

The heels and sides of her feet have healed well but the fleshy skin under her toes has stayed white, rather than pink which signals new growth, said Mr McRae.

The couple will find out today if Olivia needs skin grafts when she is assessed by a plastic surgeon in Dunedin.

The tiles have been covered in artificial grass to prevent any similar accidents and the McRaes warned other parents to checktiles.

"If you've got dark tiles check them out," said Mrs McRae. "I'd hate for it to happen to anyone else."