Reef was 22 months old. Active. Happy. And not a known climber. He had never even tried to climb his drawers. There wasn’t anything on top. His mum put those drawers in his room because they were heavy so she thought they were sturdy. He was put down for a nap and he never woke. When mum checked on him, he was under the drawers and not breathing. They attempted CPR. The ambulance arrived and continued until they arrived at PMH. They kept trying but eventually stopped. He was gone.
Only 6 months prior, drawers fell on my own son. No one ever told us about the dangers. No one ever told us there were devices that could prevent it. We had never heard of anyone advocating nor promoting furniture safety. The hospital staff didn’t even advocate anything when it happened to my son, who thankfully came out ok with just cuts and bruises. We found many other parents didn’t even know about the dangers in their homes. Many were complacent and thought their kids didn’t climb so they’d be ok. Or that they were supervised enough, so it would be ok.
But you don’t usually supervise a supposed-to-be-napping toddler. You can’t supervise when you duck into the toilet. Turn your back for a minute. Toddlers explore. Little blake Shaw from Queensland (Purple Turtle Foundation) was 1 metre away from the shelf that fell and killed him.
So we knew something had to be done. So we started our campaign to bring awareness and educate parents on this safety issue. At the inquest for Reef’s death in October, the coroner passed a recommendation for law changes so that those who were denied by landlords to restrain furniture, can do so. We’re now just waiting for the government to act on this recommendation.
We share stories of deaths and close calls with furniture falls. We share different brackets and restraints you can use and how to use them. We share information on facts about falling furniture as well as other child safety. We offer to help locals in Perth to restrain their furniture if they don’t know how to. We keep everyone up to date on our progress ie. The inquest. The awards. The charity set up. The impact Reef has made.
Every year children are injured and killed by falling furniture and even falling televisions!
It is essential that every parent and grandparent make a point of doing the following:
- Check your chest of drawers and other similar items such as televisions and make sure that they cannot topple.
- Wherever possible, use items such as the Flat Screen Tv Saver and Furniture Straps to help secure furniture. These can be found at www.SafetyStoreAustralia.com.au in the General Safety section. Your local hardware store can provide even stronger fixing options if necessary. Furniture should always be secured, whether or not you think it can topple over.
- Help spread the word by sharing this post as far and wide as is possible!
(Article written by Dee Quartermaine, aunt of Reef). Assisted by Steve Lewsen, Director, Safety Store Australia.