Published On: Sat, Nov 30th, 2013

An Avoidable Tragedy

I am the type of person who does not read the newspaper as I do not want to hear about the tragedies in the world where people die from natural disaAn Avoidable Tragedysters, terrorism, accidents and the like. As a mother of two, I even hate it more when I hear about senseless tragedies involving children. There are so many things that can happen to our children that can cause them serious injury or even death, that I believe it would be practically impossible to cover every possibility and would also pose a risk to ‘bubble wrapping’ our children. However, there is one story that I wish to tell in which I firmly believe is within the control of every parent.

I have two girls, one 6 ½ years old and the other who will be turning 4 in November. Caitlin, my youngest was playing with her sister on the afternoon of the Labour Day public holiday. They were playing dress ups which involved them dressing in different outfits of their own clothes. I was in my older daughter’s room at the time and I heard a rocking sound and then a crash from Caitlin’s bedroom. When I got to her bedroom, her chest of drawers was flat on the ground and Caitlin was standing at the tip of where it had fallen. I called my husband and he deduced that she must have climbed on to the top of it to have not been caught underneath it and also for it to have fallen over in the first place.

I knew that Caitlin needed to calm down as she could see we were upset so after dinner we asked her to tell us what had happened. We went up to her room so that she could show us and my husband had pushed up the chest of drawers by then. It was a very heavy chest of drawers, I would not have been able to put it back up. Caitlin told us that she had been trying to get a jumper from the jumper drawer. I knew this was the second bottom drawer. My husband then pulled it out as far as it could go and he lent on the drawer. This caused the chest of drawers to rock forward and we deduced that this had acted as a lever for the chest of drawers to topple over. How our daughter was able to avoid getting hit or crushed by the drawers we do not know.

Ironically I had previously read an article by a mother who had told of her young daughter who had been killed in a similar situation. I remember telling my girls at the time to not play with the chest of drawers and decided that it was little risk as it was so heavy and the youngest one would not have been able to pull it over and the oldest one would be sensible enough not to. I have to admit I was also complacent. I could not contemplate thinking of what I would need to do to secure the chest of drawers – a trip to Bunnings to buy a bracket, drilling a hole in the wall. It just seemed too hard to think about at the time and I dismissed it.

Now I regret being basically so lazy and dismissing the probability as being low. I now realise that even if something is a 1 in 10,000 possibility if your child happens to be the 1 in 10,000 that is not going to be enough to console you for their loss. My daughter, thank goodness, was not injured and she did not die, yet I hope that I can pass the message on now about how dangerous furniture can be and hopefully the message will not only be read but acted upon. We all lead busy lives but would we want our lives to be less busy by having one less child?

I urge you to check all your furniture and to secure anything that you believe would injure your child if it fell on top of them. I have very quickly looked at some internet references on furniture safety with some articles saying that even furniture that they thought was not that heavy has resulted in serious injury to their children.

We cannot protect our children from every single harm that may befall them, but this is one potential tragedy that I firmly believed can be avoided. Please secure your furniture and then it will be one less thing that you need to worry about. As for me, I am so grateful to still have my beautiful daughter. She has no idea what could have happened, but I do and I want you to know as well.

Michelle Wigglesworth
Copyright Mummy Weekly 2013
www.mummyweekly.com.au

Kidsafe Australia make the following recommendations when it comes to furniture in the home:

*Kids are at risk of falling even as young babies when they do not have control over their movement, e.g., a baby learning to roll.
*Never leave a baby alone on a bed, change table or piece of furniture. Always keep a hand on them.
*Use the change table safety strap every time.
*Always use the safety strap on highchairs and other infant seats.
*Make sure all furniture is sturdy and secured so that heavy objects cannot fall on your child. Fix furniture such as bookcases to the wall to prevent the child from pulling the item onto themselves.
*Put items your child is allowed to reach on the lowest shelves so they are less tempted to try climbing up the furniture.
*Move furniture with sharp corners away from areas where children are more likely to run around. If the furniture can’t be moved, pad its corners with foam or install a corner protector.
* Make sure bunk beds have guard rails and a FIXED ladder. Children under the age of 9 should not sleep in top bunks. Trundle beds are recommended as safer.
* Make swinging chairs stationary and remove rocking chairs.
* Use chairs with arms, and if purchasing new pieces of furniture, make sure they have rounded corners.
* Keep in mind that children don’t always use furniture the way it is meant to be used. Look at your home from your child’s eye level. To a child a dresser may look like a ladder to climb on.

For more information on safety in the home visit kidsafensw.org


MichMichelle Wiggesworthelle is a mum of two young children. While at home recently, an event took place that was powerful enough to compel her to write and remind us all, to take a second look around our home.


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