Tipped furniture accidents can be prevented

Over the past 10 years, a child visited the emergency room every 45 minutes because of a TV or large piece of furniture tipping over on top of them, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. And that number is growing, especially in kids 5 years old and younger.

The damage caused when a TV or piece of furniture falls on a child can be devastating. “The weight can crush a child’s skull and do severe internal damage to the body, as well,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager. “Even if the impact is not fatal, often the child cannot get out from under the item. If mom or dad isn’t right there, the child can suffocate under the pressure.”

Even the lightest piece of furniture, such as a small bookcase, weighs 25 pounds. Most pieces, such as dressers and TVs, weigh much more — 50, 100 pounds or more. Adding clothing or heavy items only adds to the weight that can come crashing down on a child if the furniture is not secured.

A curious, determined child can easily topple a TV or piece of furniture. “Children are natural explorers,” says Jessica Saunders, director of the Office of Community Health and Engagement. “While we as parents may tell them it’s off limits, their curiosity and ingenuity drives them to see dressers as mountains to be climbed and bookcases as cliffs to scale, especially if there is a toy or other item of interest on top.” For televisions, the most common problem is being bumped off a table or stand, normally by a child simply trying to turn it on.

Thankfully, there are easy ways to make sure your TVs and furniture are secure and educating parents and caregivers can help prevent tip-overs and make homes safer. “The best way to prevent tragedy from falling furniture is to anchor it to the wall,” says Schwing. “Some televisions and furniture come with the kits or you can buy a wall-mounting kit. There are also kits available at any hardware or baby store to tether a table-top television and furniture to the wall for security.”

After every television is securely fastened to the wall, you can also make sure cables and cords are tucked away and out of reach of children. Be sure to anchor every large piece of furniture to the wall, too, including dressers, bookcases, grandfather clocks and stoves, to name a few.

Now is the perfect time to do this for many families. Many may have purchased new TV sets for the recent Super Bowl, and it’s a fresh opportunity to make sure it’s safely secured to the wall. At the same time, parents can check every piece of larger furniture in the house to make sure it’s properly secured as well.

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This look at a children’s health or safety issue comes from Dayton Children’s Hospital. Email: newsroom@childrensdayton.org.