Furniture Tip Overs
This article is hard to write because it is forcing me to “own” my negligence as a parent and safety instructor. For those of you that don’t know me, I have been teaching CPR and First Aid classes for over 15 years. I have told students countless times that the first link in the chain of survival for kids is prevention. Majority of kids’ injuries and deaths can be prevented as they are caused by accidents. Children not in proper car restraints (which can mean the difference between life and death in an accident), choking on toys that aren’t age appropriate, drowning in the bathtub and poisonings are just a few of the many tragedies that could be prevented.
When I had my own kids, I read books regarding what to feed them, what to buy, how to get them to sleep through the night, and other safety articles. Regarding safety, much of what I read included car seat info, electrical outlet covers and cabinet locks. I do remember also reading about furniture restraints but thought it sounded a little like overkill. I try not to be an overprotective parent that wraps the entire house in bubble wrap; did they even have furniture restraints available when we were kids? We all made it, right? Well, I am now here to advise anyone with kids to restrain their furniture and TVs.
When my little boy was 4, he was trying to reach for something on the top of his dresser. He pulled out one of the bottom drawers and used it like a stair step and to his surprise the dresser came toppling over on him, giving him a big goose egg on his head (thankfully he was able to shimmy out from under it). I immediately told my husband that we needed to get the furniture mounted to the wall. His dresser had come with a kit so we immediately installed it. No more injuries. However, when this happened my little girl was only 2 and her dresser is older (mine from when I was a kid), so it doesn’t have any safety restraints. Due to the scare I immediately ordered some safety straps from Amazon and they were delivered two days later. Life gets busy though. The day they came in the mail, my husband went to install them but couldn’t find his stud finder. We put the kit on the tool bench and postponed the project until we could find the missing tool. Well, fast forward 2.5 years. Yep, that furniture mount never got installed and I am sure you can guess how this story is going to progress.
This weekend I was in my bathroom when all of a sudden I heard a loud thud and my daughter screaming at the top of her lungs. I ran into her bedroom to find her laying on the floor with her dresser pinning her to the floor. She was trying to get something out of her top drawer and again used the bottom drawers like stairs. Thankfully she was mostly unharmed. Her fall resulted in a bruised eye, as well as a swollen nose and lip. I am so glad that I was there to immediately help her but it really got me thinking of the things that could have happened. The dresser could have landed on her airway and suffocated her; I have read about this happening. It also could have easily broken her nose or ribs due to the weight falling on her. It also could have caused bad damage to her eye if the handle/knob would have hit her; she could have broken her teeth. The injuries could have been many; I feel blessed to be writing this with little to no injuries, but it really got me thinking.
How big of a problem is this? I mean, I’ve had dressers topple over on my own kids! My research confirms that this is a huge problem! Every 45 minutes, a child visits the ER because of a TV or piece of furniture tipping over on them. On average, every two weeks a child dies from an incident like this. EVERY TWO WEEKS!! The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 43,000 consumers are injured due to tip over accidents each year. Sadly, 80% of the fatalities are kids under the age of 10 with majority of injuries and deaths occurring in children 1-3. TVs and top heavy furniture are an issue in todays home. It’s something most parents don’t even think about. But securing your TV and furniture is an important part of “baby/kid-proofing” your home.
Safekids.org recommends the following tips:
- Assess the stability of the TVs in your home.
- Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall to prevent them from toppling off stands. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you have a secure fit.
- If you have a large, heavy, old-style cathode ray tube (CRT) TV, place it on a low, stable piece of furniture.
- Use brackets, braces or wall straps to secure unstable or top-heavy furniture to the wall.
- Install stops on dresser drawers to prevent them from being pulled all the way out. Multiple open drawers can cause the weight to shift, making it easier for a dresser to fall.
- Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
- Avoid placing remote controls, food, toys or other items in places where babies might be tempted to climb up or reach for them.
While looking into the statistics I came across a blog with the most horrifying story. When little Megan Beck was only 3 years old a dresser fell on her and killed her from asphyxiation within minutes. I beg you all to watch her story here! It is going to be a tear-jerker but I am thanking God that I am not writing the blog post that her mom wrote. However, I can help raise awareness. I am pleading with you to anchor your furniture to the wall or floor. Megan’s mom said, “Tragically, her death was preventable, for if we had secured her dresser to the wall, she would be with us today. A few dollars and about 20 minutes would have saved her life. Instead of putting a few holes in our walls and furniture, we forever have one in our hearts that will never heal. Walls can be fixed, broken hearts cannot.” I am happy to report that we have tied down all of our heavy furniture/TVs. Please do not let this happen to you. You can find furniture/TV straps at your local retailer or here on Amazon. Spend the few dollars and minutes. Take this safety quiz! Anchor it and Protect a Child!