The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that between 2000 and 2010 there were at least 245 deaths related to tip-overs of furniture, televisions or appliances among children ages 8 years and under. Most of these deaths, 90 percent of them, involved children younger than 6. In 2011, the CPSC identified this issue as one of the top hidden home hazards. Kids can be seriously injured or killed as a result of climbing onto, falling against or pulling themselves up on shelves, bookcases, dressers, TV tables and other furniture.
CPSC data also shows that between 2008 and 2010 there were 22,000 injuries associated with product instability or tip-overs involving children younger than 9. That number is more than half of all estimated instability and tip-over injuries between 2008 and 2010. If a piece of furniture is unstable or top-heavy, fasten it to a wall using brackets, screws or wall straps. Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers. Don’t keep remote controls, candy or other tempting items on unstable stands or tables. A child might be enticed to reach for the top and pull down the object, the stand or both.
Tie up loose cords, too — a child pulling on an electrical cord, or tripping on one, could pull an appliance off a stand. Other steps everyone can take to protect children at home include teaching children not to climb or jump on furniture and pushing the TV as far back as possible from the front of its stand. Over the last decade, 60 percent of tip-over fatalities involved a television.
Kids 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. Always supervise children around any confined space and keep the doors closed and locked.
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, Safe Kids Grand Forks recommends you remove the lid or install a spring-loaded lid support.
These are not hazards that kill hundreds of children every year, like vehicle crashes or drowning, but 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 about home safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.