TANE Mahuta Bentley hasn’t even started school yet, but he knew instinctively to “stop, drop and roll” when a ball of fire swept over him in a frightening accident at his Gympie home.
His mum, Meaghan Bentley, says her four-year old son’s reflex action saved him from sustaining life threatening burns, and she is “eternally grateful” for valuable life skills he was taught at a local martial arts studio when he was just three years old.
When the family’s hot water system went on the blink recently, they had resorted to heating water over a fire as an interim measure.
“Instead of using paper to get the fire going, this time my other son threw petrol on it,” Mrs Bentley said.
The ensuing combustion created a fireball that engulfed Tane, who was standing nearby.
With his clothes and hair on fire, Tane didn’t panic, Ms Bentley said, but remembered his “Little Dragon” lessons and immediately threw himself on the ground and started rolling.
“I thank God that they taught him to stop, drop and roll because it could have been a lot worse,” an emotional Ms Bentley told The Gympie Times yesterday.
It’s been a tough enough year for the family.
“He’s had a hard time, his dad was killed in a traffic crash in February and his grandmother is in hospital,” she said.
Tane has just returned home from the burns unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.
He received burns to his chin, neck, arms and torso.
Two deep burns may need skin grafts, but Tane Mahuta, named after New Zealand’s largest kauri tree, is on the mend.
“I can’t believe how strong he’s been,” his mum said.
“He’s not taking any pain killers and the only time he cried was when he got a tetanus shot.”
Julie Rimmington said it was very satisfying knowing the program that she and husband Trevor developed specifically for children, has had such positive results.
“It is satisfying,” Mrs Rimmington said.
“I was so proud of him. What we take pride in is that we make children aware but not frightened – it’s a fine line. The thing that keeps them safest is self-confidence.”
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