The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 2005, at least 3,000 children younger than 5 were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms because of injuries associated with TV tip-overs. 8,000 to 10,000 people — mostly children — each year go to the emergency room with injuries from furniture tipping over, and about six are killed. Kids can be seriously injured or killed as a result of climbing on shelves, bookcases, dressers, TV tables and other furniture.
“If a piece of furniture is top-heavy or unstable, fasten it to a wall using angle braces or anchors,” says Mandi Summers, Safe Kids Western Massachusetts coordinator. “Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.” Televisions, stereos or favorite toys sitting on a table or stand might entice a child 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,” says Summers.
Kids are also in danger of suffocation if they become accidentally trapped in a cabinet, toy chest or laundry machine; in 2006 alone there were more than 3,800 injuries to children ages 2-14 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, the CPSC recommends you remove the lid or install a spring-loaded lid support,” says Summers.
“These are not hazards that kill thousands of children every year, like vehicle crashes or drowning, but they are so easy to prevent and the consequences can be so severe,” says Summers. “Don’t underestimate the possibility of a small child being crushed by unsteady furniture.”
For more information about home safety, call Safe Kids of Western Mass at Baystate Children’s Hospital at 413-794-5610 or visit www.usa.safekids.org. Safe Kids of Western Massachusetts works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under.