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Tip-over death reminder of furniture dangers

Tip-over death reminder of furniture dangers

Credit: CPSC

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on October 2, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 2 at 8:59 PM

I have no doubt that any day now, my little one will be crawling everywhere. He’s so antsy scooting around in circles. So it’s no surprise I’m in baby proofing mode.

Some people say I’m overly worried, but this e-mail I received last week may make any parent cautious. It came from Dan and Linda.

I have an important albeit very sad, story to tell. Since I know that you are a new mom.

Last night, we learned that my nephew’s little girl died, when a very large TV fell on her, after she had attempted to reach a DVD tape that was out of her grasp. We’ll never know how, but she must have used the TV as leverage to climb on, and somehow it fell on her, killing her instantly. She was just three years old. Our family is now trying to cope with this unimaginable, senseless tragedy that takes such a young child’s life in a manner like this.

That story breaks my heart. However the real tragedy is that these deaths are more common than you may think. 

A new Consumer Product Safety Commission report shows that between 2000 and 2010, CPSC staff received reports of 245 tip-over-related deaths involving children 8 years old and younger. More than 90 percent of the incidents involved children 5 years old and younger. In more than half of the 245 fatalities (56%), the child was crushed by the weight of the television, furniture, or appliance. The majority of these children suffered fatal injuries to the head (67%).

In addition, more than 22,000 children 8 years old and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year (2008-2010) for injuries related to instability or tipover of televisions, furniture, and appliances. And like the fatalities, a majority of these injuries (56%) are to the head.

The most common tip-over scenarios involve toddlers who have climbed onto, fallen against or pulled themselves up on furniture. About 70 percent of children's fatalities (169 incidents) involved falling televisions, and 27 percent (65 incidents) involved only furniture falling. Of the 135 child fatalities where furniture fell by itself or fell with a TV, the majority of incidents (64%) involved a chest, dresser, or a bureau. Often, these pieces of furniture have drawers that children can use to climb.

To prevent tragedies follow these safety tips:

  • Anchor furniture to the wall or the floor. (Most anchors for your TV cost between $10 and $30.)
  • Place TVs on sturdy, low bases.
  • Or, anchor the furniture and the TV on top of it, and push the TV as far back on the furniture as possible.
  • Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off 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.

This Public Service Announcement shows how easy it is for these tipovers to happen. Thanks Dan and Linda for sharing your story. Like their family, I'm sure the mom interviewed in this wishes she could have all done things differently.