“Love you,” I had said to my baby boy, Shane. “Love you,” he said back from his bed as I closed the door to his bedroom for his afternoon nap. Later, I went to wake my baby from his nap as my husband came in from yard work. My husband heard a sound that was unrecognizable — my screams. My baby’s dresser had fallen on him. Shane had just turned two years old when he died.
This story would be quite different if we had known the safety hazards associated with the dresser. Or better yet, if my son’s dresser/changing table had come with a strap to secure it. As we would later find out, some new furniture and TVs include a safety strap or anchor, but many items, even nursery and youth furnishings, do not.
A new U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data report issued December 2012 shows that one child dies every two weeks and over 25,000 injuries are reported each year to children under 18 from TVs, furniture or appliances toppling over onto them. 2011 had the highest one-year number of fatalities reported.
Tip-overs are “one of the most dangerous hidden hazards in the home” according to the CPSC. While tragedies involving falling furniture or televisions are not uncommon, there are measures that can be taken to remove the risk. If safety straps are not included with the furniture you purchase, they only cost a few dollars and are not difficult to install. Low-cost anchoring devices are effective in preventing tip-over incidents. In addition to securing the furniture and televisions in your own home, be mindful of anywhere your child spends time, such as grandparents’ homes, day care centers or even your gym’s nursery. Be sure to not overlook short furniture as it is just as dangerous as larger pieces. The changing table/dresser that took Shane’s life was only 35 inches tall.
To help prevent tip-over tragedies, CPSC recommends the following safety measures in homes where children live or visit:
- Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor.
- Place TVs on sturdy, low bases, or anchor the furniture and the TV on top of the base, and push the TV as far back on the furniture as possible.
- Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off of TV stands or furniture.
- Keep TV and/or cable cords out of reach of children.
- Make sure freestanding kitchen ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
- Supervise children in rooms where these safety tips have not been followed.
By Lisa Siefert, Founder and President of Shane’s Foundation
For more furniture safety tips, please visit www.ShanesFoundation.org.
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.