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Council wants residents to check heavy fixtures after tragedy in Beaconsfield
A COUNCIL is urging residents to check any heavy fixtures and fittings in their homes following the tragic death of a six-year-old girl in Beaconsfield.
Bella Pritchard was crushed when part of a heavy stone fireplace – similar to the weight of a fridge freezer - fell at her home in Burkes Road in July (see related links).
Buckinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards department says there have been similar incidents nationally, and wants residents with a stone fireplace to check it is properly secured to the wall.
This may mean adding extra fixings, such as brackets, on to mantle shelves screwed into brickwork.
Officers also warn that other objects such as loaded bookcases or large mirrors could be equally devastating if not secure, particularly for young children.
Martin Phillips, the council’s cabinet member for community engagement, said: "Our hearts go out to the family in this particular case.
"If anything good can come out of such a tragedy, it’s simply advice to other parents to invest a bit of time to check their homes and maybe prevent another incident like this from happening again.
"Whilst the specific incident in Buckinghamshire is still being investigated, we believe parents should spend a few minutes walking around their homes checking for potential hazards of this type.
"Homeowners may not realise that in the case of stone fireplaces, the mantle can be unbelievably heavy.
"They should also be capable of bearing additional weight such as heavy ornaments, people leaning on them and young children looking to reach things. If you have a surround of this type, it may be an idea to restrict access to the surround until you are satisfied with its safety."
Trading Standards is currently investigating the most secure method of installation of stone fire surrounds and will give further information when this becomes available.
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