The hidden home hazard…

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that between 2000 and 2006 there were at least 180 deaths related to tip-overs of furniture, televisions or appliances.  Most of theses deaths, 80 percent of them, involved children younger than 10.  In 2007, the CPSC identified this issue as one of the top five hidden home hazards.  Children can be seriously injured or killed as result of climbing onto, falling against or pulling themselves up on shelves, bookcases, dressers, TV tables and other furniture. 

Whether you have a baby learning to stand, an unsteady toddler trying to climb, or a fearless preschooler who still doesn’t quite understand balance, furniture tip-overs are a real and hidden danger for children. 

Regardless of your child’s abilities and limitations, top-heavy furniture, TVs and appliances can tip over and seriously injure young children. There are many easy-to-install devices that anchor furniture to the wall, making furniture more stable and tip-over resistant. These devices are designed for dressers, wall units, and anything your child might try to climb.

Top safety tips to help prevent tip-overs:

  • If a piece of furniture is unstable or top-heavy, secure it to a stud in the wall using brackets, braces, anchors, or wall straps. Large items such as TVs, microwaves, fish tanks, bookcases, heavy furniture, and appliances can topple off stands and fall on children. 
  • If you have a newer flat screen TV, make sure it’s properly anchored to the wall.
  • Read the manufacturer’s instructions for tips or warnings regarding placement of your TV or furniture.
  • Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
  • Don’t keep remote controls, candy, toys, or other items that attract children on top of furniture, as your child might be enticed to reach for these items.
  • Supervise young children at all times. Nothing can take the place of active supervision.

Children are also in danger of suffocation if they become accidentally trapped in a cabinet, toy chest, or laundry machine; in 2007 alone there were 3,270 injuries to children ages 2 to 14 involving toy chests.  Toy chests that meet voluntary standards set by the CPSC are equipped with lid supports that hold the lid open in any position.  The standards also call for ventilation holes to prevent suffocation.  If you have a toy chest with a lid that doesn’t stay open, the CPSC recommends you to remove the lid or install a spring-loaded lid support.  Always supervise children around any confined space and keep the lids/doors closed and locked when they are not in use. 

Although these are not hazards that kill thousands of children every year, like vehicle crashes or drowning, they are so easy to prevent and the consequences can be so severe.  Don’t underestimate the possibility of a small child being crushed by unsteady furniture.

For more information regarding furniture tip-overs and entrapment, or other information on injury prevention, log on to www.safekidsgf.com or send us an e-mail at safekids@altru.org.

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About safekids

Safe Kids Grand Forks is an injury prevention coalition who has as their mission to prevent unintentional injuries to children under the age of 10. Safe Kids Grand Forks is one of over 600 state and local coalitions affilicated with Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington, D.C. Altru Health System is the lead agency for SKGF and our goal is to collaborate and coordinate activivies of all entities in the community who have childhood injury prevention on their agenda. Together, we are keeping the children of our community and region safe!!

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