Parents know the feeling of terror that results from walking into a room to find a toddler halfway up a bookcase, or standing inside the bottom dresser drawer while reaching up for the next one. Unfortunately, parents don’t always catch their children in the act before that piece of furniture tumbles over.
According to Safe Kids, TV or furniture tip-overs send 10 children to the emergency room each day in the United States. And unfortunately, a child dies every three weeks for the same reason. In January 2021, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a report confirming from 2017 through 2019, an average of 11,100 children were treated in emergency rooms each year for tip-over-related injuries. So, why does this happen?
Young children are injured most often.
According to the CPSC, 79% of deaths occur in children younger than 6. This is often due to normal development and exploration as children grow. When babies start to pull up, they grab whatever is nearby, which is often a dresser, TV stand or bookcase. As children mature, they tend to gain independence and want to choose their own clothes, which means opening lots of dresser drawers. Or, they may climb a bookcase while trying to reach a toy or other object they find interesting.
TVs also account for many of these injuries. If a TV is set on top of a piece of furniture and not mounted to the wall, it can become unstable if the child climbs or bumps into the stand, causing the TV to fall.
Start smart shopping.
Climbing, jumping and exploring are part of normal childhood development, and also a whole lot of fun! We can make wonderful memories with our children while staying safe by taking a few simple actions.
Parents think a lot about buying safe cribs and age-appropriate toys for little ones, but choosing safe furniture matters, too. If you’re in the market for new furniture, like a dresser for your baby’s nursery, be selective about the products you buy. You could begin your search by looking for items that have been tested by safety and regulatory organizations, like CPSC. Also, some pieces of furniture have built-in anchors on the back so you can secure them to the wall immediately.
Parents should always read any manual that comes with a piece of furniture, TV or wall-mounting/anchor system. Not only do you need to ensure the anchor system can support the weight of your furniture, but some of these products specify what they need to be attached to. For example, if the manual says to attach the anchors to wood, and your furniture product isn’t real wood, it may not attach properly, putting your child at risk.
Secure what you already own.
If you already have furniture or TVs at home you’d like to stabilize, you can! Safe Kids recommends:
- Mounting flat-screen TVs to the wall. Sit heavier, box-style TVs on a very low, stable piece of furniture.
- Installing anti-tip braces, brackets or wall straps to heavy furniture to secure it to the wall. This applies to bookshelves, dressers, armoires, TV stands and more.
- Adding drawer locks or stops on dressers to prevent kids from pulling drawers out. Having too many open drawers can shift the weight of the furniture, causing it to tip.
Since these products are only proven to work when installed correctly, you may even consider seeking professional installation help. The peace of mind knowing your little one is safe is truly priceless!
If your child is injured by falling furniture, Wolfson Children’s Hospital is here for you. Visit wolfsonchildrens.com/emergency for a list of ER locations throughout Northeast Florida, staffed by pediatric emergency medicine specialists, and current wait times. For more guidelines on child safety at all ages, check out wolfsonchildrens.com/safekids.