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Small Magnets Pose Big Danger for Children

Kidsafe Victoria has issued a warning to parents and carers about the dangers of children choking or suffering serious internal injuries if they ingest magnets.

The warning comes as statistics from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit show that an average of 38 Victorian children present to hospital emergency departments every year with a magnet related injury.

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, said that young children were at particular risk of injuries involving magnets due to their natural curiosity and lack of awareness of the dangers.

“Children often explore their environments by placing things in their mouths. Small magnets can be accessed from a range of common household items including children’s toys, fridge magnets, jewellery and objects like keyrings.”

Dr Maurizio Pacilli, consultant paediatric surgeon at Monash Children’s Hospital, said that common injuries from the ingestion of magnets included choking, perforation of the bowel, infection and even death.

“If a child swallows two or more magnets they will be drawn towards each other and can lock together inside the body, which can result in perforation of the bowel, blockages and infection. In these cases, urgent surgery is required to remove the magnets and avoid serious medical complications or death”, said Dr Pacilli.

Toys containing magnets are required to meet a mandatory Australian standard which outlines labelling and testing requirements.

Kidsafe Victoria is encouraging all parents and carers to check their homes for items that contain magnets and take action to help keep children safe.


Magnet Safety Tips

Buying objects with magnets

  • Look for fridge magnets that are too big to fit in a young child's mouth
  • Check that magnets are securely attached to/in the toy, and can’t come off easily
  • Check the size of magnets in/on toys to make sure that if they come loose, they wouldn’t fit in a child’s mouth

Using products with magnets

  • Keep toys with strong magnets, or magnetic parts that are small enough to be swallowed, away from young children
  • If children are playing with toys containing magnets, supervise them closely to ensure none go in their mouth
  • Dispose of toys immediately if their magnets come loose
  • Avoid the use of magnetic jewellery as fake body piercings

 

If you suspect a child has swallowed a magnet, seek urgent medical assistance.

 

 

Fifty Australians a Week Injured by Toppling Furniture and Televisions

An estimated 2,600 Australians receive hospital treatment for injuries caused by toppling furniture and televisions each year, equating to approximately 50 people per week.

Since 2001 at least 22 children under the age of 9 have died in Australia from toppling furniture or televisions, with children under 3 years of age at greatest risk. 

The ACCC, in partnership with Kidsafe, has launched a national awareness campaign urging parents to check their homes for dangerous and potentially deadly situations caused by unstable furniture including bookcases, drawers, wardrobes, sideboards and TVs.

Melanie Courtney, CEO of Kidsafe Victoria, said thatchildren's curiosity and lack of awareness of danger placed them at increased risk of injury from TV and furniture tip overs.

"Children are naturally inquisitive and common household furniture can look very different and interesting from a toddler's perspective - for example, they may see items of furniture like bookcases and shelves as a ladder to gain access to reach an item that is stored up high."

"This is why it's important that anyone who has young children in their home - either living there or visiting - is aware of the dangers", said Ms Courtney.

ACCC Acting Chair, Delia Rickard, said tip-over accidents happen quickly and reinforced the importance of parents and carers securing furniture to make their homes safer for children.

 

For safety secure televisions to the wall

"We strongly encourage parents and carers to check every room in their home for toppling hazards and anchor any tall or unstable furniture or large TVs."

"If you don't have anchor kits, you can buy them cheaply at hardware stores or furniture retail outlets", said Ms Rickard.

Warwick Teague, Director of the Trauma Service at the Royal Children's Hospital, said that falling furniture can not only strike a child, but can trap and crush them underneath and cause life threatening injuries or death

"Common injuries from TV and furniture tip over incidents result from significant blunt force trauma and include broken bones, brain injuries, crushed chest cavities and even death by asphyxiation", said Dr Teague.

The new awareness campaign features the story of a toddler, Blake, who was killed when a freestanding bookcase fell on him as he sat playing on the floor. Blake's death provides a tragic reminder to all parents and careers to anchor unstable furniture and large TVs.

Ms Rickard said that the ACCC will continue to work with retailers to increase awareness about the dangers posed by unstable furniture. This includes ensuring retailers supply appropriate anchoring devices to consumers, better in-store signage is displayed, and warning labels are affixed to products.

Furniture safety tips

Buy Safe

  • Purchase low-set furniture or furniture with sturdy, stable and broad bases.
  • Look for furniture that comes with safety information or equipment for anchoring it to the walls.
  • Test the furniture in the shop - make sure it is stable. For example, pull out top drawers of a chest of drawers and apply a little pressure to see how stable it is. Make sure the drawers do not fall out easily.

Use Safe

  • Attach, mount, bolt or otherwise secure furniture to walls and floors.
  • Do not put heavy items on top shelves of bookcases.
  • Secure televisions to the wall.
  • Discourage small children from climbing on furniture.
  • Do not put tempting items such as favorite toys on top of furniture that encourage children to climb up and reach.
  • Do not place unstable furniture near where children play.
  • Put locking devices on all drawers to prevent children opening them and using them as steps.

ACCC Research Report - Consumer awareness of furniture stability risks and prevention

Media Enquiries:
Ron Smith, Media Communications, Kidsafe Victoria - Mobile: 0417 329 201

 

 

Hot Drinks, Water and Food Burn Like Fire

Hot Drinks, Water and Food Burn Like Fire

Kidsafe Victoria Issue Red Alert for National Burns Awareness Month

Kidsafe Victoria is urging parents and carers to be vigilant and take action to reduce the risks of burns and scalds in the lead up to winter, a time of heightened burns risk.

The call comes at the start of National Burns Awareness Month – a campaign that raises awareness of the prevention and appropriate first aid measures for minor burns.

Statistics from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) show that in 2016/17, almost 1,000 Australian and New Zealand children were admitted to a burns unit.

The most common causes of paediatric burns and scalds were hot beverages (20%), water from saucepan/kettle/jug/billy/urn (13%), food (8%), coals/ashes (6%), water from tap/bath/shower (4%) and fat/oil (4%).

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria, highlighted that children’s lack of awareness of danger placed them at increased risk of burn injuries.

“Children are naturally curious and like to explore their surroundings, however they don’t understand the danger posed by many common household burn and scald hazards.”

“A child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s and will therefore result in a more severe burn. Burn injuries can have a long term impact on children, both mentally and physically in terms of requiring painful skin grafts, ongoing treatment and causing permanent scarring”, said Mr Chambers.

Half of all child burn injuries occurred in the home kitchen, with incidents commonly occurring when a child was near an adult who was preparing food or drink.

Kidsafe Victoria is urging all parents and carers to download the burn and scald home safety checklist from www.kidsafevic.com.au and follow some key steps to prevent burns and scalds to children this winter.

They are also urging the public to familiarise themselves with the correct first aid measures to treat minor burns if they do occur.

“If a burn occurs, it’s critical that cool running water is applied to the burn area for a minimum of 20 minutes. Administration of the correct first aid measures can make a significant difference in the child’s rehabilitation and long term outcome of the burn injury”, said Mr Chambers.

National Burns Awareness Month is an initiative held at the beginning of winter in June each year as there is a significantly increased risk of burns during this time.  With the support of mundicare® Burnaid® gel, Kidsafe will be hosting a series of national educational and awareness initiatives throughout the month.

For more information about the prevention and treatment of minor burns, please visit www.kidsafevic.com.au

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