When Jack Dragicevich was an inquisitive toddler he opened kitchen drawers to climb up and investigate the beeping of a microwave oven - with disastrous results.

Aged nearly 3, he opened the microwave door and pulled a dish of boiling water and vegetables down his front.

Mum Allissa McDowall quickly got Jack under tepid water in the shower to try to limit the damage, but he had suffered third degree burns to 11 per cent of his body and minor burns to his face.

At the time, in 2008, Jack told the Herald: "The bowl, it tipped on me" and that the burns were very "owie".

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Jack Dragicevich, aged nearly 3, with his mother Allissa McDowall in hospital in 2008, after having operation for his burns. Photo / Getty Images
Jack Dragicevich, aged nearly 3, with his mother Allissa McDowall in hospital in 2008, after having operation for his burns. Photo / Getty Images

Today, at the launch of a national campaign at Auckland City Hospital on how to keep children safe in the home, the confident 11-year-old from the North Shore recounted his accident, his treatment, and his work as an ambassador for burns survivors.

He has had a number of major skin grafts, each of which requires him to stay in hospital for weeks at a time. Jack and his mother are pleased with his recovery, but he faces more operations or other types of treatment because, Allissa says, "The skin doesn't grow as fast as you do".

Jack, who plays several sports, including basketball, his favourite, says his skin sometimes feels tight.

"When I'm training for swimming my shoulders don't go fully back."

Jack has a safety message for families: "Keep microwaves high."

Jack Dragicevich, 11, was scalded badly with hot water as a 2-year-old. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Jack Dragicevich, 11, was scalded badly with hot water as a 2-year-old. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The national safety campaign that he helped to launch is an interactive exhibition, the $150,000 Safekids Safety Whare, which will be at the hospital until Friday and spend next year visiting 10 sites around New Zealand.

Injuries in the home are its focus, as more than 60 per cent of injuries in children under 5 occur at home.

Made with funding from the Starship Foundation and to be transported with the support of Mobil, the house-like display has digital, interactive and artistic demonstrations of how to prevent falls, burns, swallowing of button batteries, cutting and piercing, poisoning, driveway-run-over injuries, and how to encourage safe sleeping.

Ann Weaver, director of Safekids Aotearoa, the Auckland District Health Board child safety unit, said New Zealand is the least regulated country in the OECD in terms of safe environments for children and it showed up in our statistics: each week, preventable injuries killed two children and put around 30 into hospital.

"We just think that's outrageous in this country when we have the evidence, the research and we know how to prevent those things."

She was disappointed Safekids had failed in its bid to have the Auckland Unitary Plan require the kinds of housing and section designs that had been shown to help prevent children being driven over in driveways.

"With child restraints in cars, instead of going to best practice, we only go half way. We always aim for the minimum of what to do, instead of looking at what's the best thing we can do to save children's lives.

"We go, 'She'll be right; we did that when I was a child'."

Injuries in the home
• 48 children under 15 die each year
• 231 children under 15 are admitted to hospital each month
• 60% of injuries to children under 5 occur in the home
• $29 million a year - ACC claims for injuries in the home to children under 5